A fresh batch of 35mm ammunition, produced by Rheinmetall specifically for the Gepard anti-aircraft tank, is currently en route to Ukraine.
This ammunition was adapted from the main armament of an infantry fighting vehicle, as Switzerland declined to provide weapons to Ukraine due to its "neutral" status, Rheinmetall said.
In February 2023, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced the establishment of ammunition production capacity for the Gepard in Germany at Rheinmetall. A contract for the rapid delivery of a total of 300,000 rounds of ammunition for the antiaircraft tank had already been signed a few days earlier.
After extensive testing at the Group's proving ground in Unterlüss, Lower Saxony, the verification program for the new ammunition was successfully concluded in May 2023 when it was fired by a Gepard antiaircraft tank.
In the meantime, a loading, assembly, and packing (LAP) line was developed and constructed at one of Rheinmetall's civil sector plants in Neuss. It was then transferred to a Group facility in Lanciano, Italy, before being relocated to Unterlüss. LAP stands for loading, assembly, and packing, representing the process of loading cartridges with propellant, assembling various round components, and packaging. Notably, the propellant powder is sourced from Nitrochemie, another member of the Group.
This year, a total of 40,000 rounds will be delivered to Ukraine. Ukraine will receive 150,000 rounds of two different types of ammunition, including subcaliber APDS-T munition with heavy metal penetrators, suitable for engaging hardened targets, and conventional HEI-T high-explosive incendiary ammunition designed for countering typical air defense targets such as aircraft and guided missiles.
Germany has made 46 of these anti-aircraft tanks available to Ukraine, with another six to follow. Rheinmetall has committed to delivering 40,000 rounds to Ukraine by the end of this year. Notably, Rheinmetall has expanded its production capacity in Germany to supply the Gepard systems, investing a multimillion-euro sum in plant and equipment. The creation of this production line involved collaboration among Rheinmetall technicians and engineers from Switzerland, Germany, and Italy.