Decisions on materiel from previous and current Armed Forces inventory

Bern, 03.06.2022 - Germany and Poland have submitted requests to the DDPS for the transfer of material from previous or current armed forces inventory. The DDPS has decided how to respond to the requests. Germany can freely dispose of Leopard 2 tanks which were sold back to Rheinmetall twelve years ago, as there are no longer any valid restrictions. No Leopard 2 tanks withdrawn from service will be transferred to Poland as this would require them to first be decommissioned which is subject to a decision by parliament. In addition, Switzerland will forgo part of an initial consignment of anti-tank weapons that it had ordered from the Swedish company Saab AB and give precedence to the United Kingdom. The majority of the systems ordered will be delivered to Switzerland by the beginning of 2023 as planned.

In recent weeks, Switzerland has received a number of requests from European states regarding the supply of war materiel. These also concern countries seeking to replenish their own stocks after having provided military systems to Ukraine. Requests for the transfer of surplus equipment from previous or current armed forces stocks that are no longer required, as well as planned deliveries of ordered systems fall within the competence of the DDPS. The disposal of surplus army equipment is not covered by the War Materiel Act.

Germany may freely dispose of Leopard 2 tanks sold back to manufacturer

In light of the war in Ukraine, Germany intends to make large military systems available to various European states. Among other things, it is seeking to source Leopard 2 A4 main battle tanks from industrial stocks. Between December 2010 and May 2011, armasuisse sold 42 such decommissioned vehicles back to the original manufacturer Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH in Kiel. The weapons (120mm gun, multiple launcher, machine guns) and on-board communication systems and other equipment were removed from all vehicles at the time. These parts remain in Switzerland as spare parts for the remaining Leopard tanks.

The DDPS confirmed to Germany that the further use of the tanks disposed of twelve years ago is the sole responsibility of Rheinmetall, and thus subject to German legislation on the export of war materiel. Germany is free to decide on the further use of these vehicles.

No transfer of Leopard 2 tanks withdrawn from service to Poland

A request from the Polish government was also examined. Poland is interested in Leopard 2 A4 tanks from the Swiss Armed Forces that have been withdrawn from service. The reason given by Poland is that it has supplied substantial amounts of weapons to Ukraine, including heavy equipment, and therefore now needs resources to increase its own stocks and defence capabilities.

As the disposal of tanks withdrawn from service to another state presupposes that these systems must first be decommissioned and this must be submitted to parliament for approval under an Armed Forces Dispatch, the DDPS does not consider the disposal of tanks withdrawn from service to Poland to be feasible within a useful period of time under the given circumstances.

DDPS gives precedence to UK on part of an order for multi-purpose weapons

Parliament approved the procurement of three different systems of shoulder-launched multi-purpose weapons under the 2016 Armed Forces Dispatch. One of these systems is the ‘Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon’ (NLAW) from Saab Dynamics AB in Sweden. These shoulder-launched multi-purpose weapons are designed to engage enemy tanks, armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and other vehicles at medium and long ranges, as well as to breach fortified enemy positions or buildings to enable friendly forces to penetrate.

Delivery to Switzerland was planned to be staggered. During the acceptance stage of a first batch in summer 2021, armasuisse identified quality issues. Saab then checked the system and made technical adjustments to the missile. The systems concerned were not yet in Switzerland. Deliveries could commence shortly and be completed by the beginning of 2023.

However, UK government agencies have now asked the DDPS whether it would be prepared to cede the delivery of the first of two consignments to Switzerland to the UK in exchange for receiving them in the 4th quarter of 2024 instead of the 1st quarter of 2023. The reason cited was that the UK needs these systems to replenish its own stocks.

The DDPS has decided to cede the delivery of the first two lots of NLAW that Switzerland had ordered to the United Kingdom, which corresponds to 30% of the total order. This means that the delivery of these two lots to Switzerland will be delayed until around the end of 2024. The two other lots (70% of the total order) are to be delivered as planned by the beginning of 2023.

From a military perspective, the later delivery of the first two lots can be easily absorbed, as the Swiss Armed Forces have other weapons systems for anti-tank defence at their disposal. Moreover, the training of personnel using simulators and the delivery can start as planned from the end of 2022.

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