Marder infantry fighting vehicles sit at the new Rheinmetall Ukrainian Defense Industry LLC repair facility in western Ukraine.

Marder infantry fighting vehicles sit at the new Rheinmetall Ukrainian Defense Industry LLC repair facility in western Ukraine. Rheinmetall

Rheinmetall opens repair center for armored vehicles in Ukraine

It appears to be one of the first foreign-owned repair centers inside the war-torn country.

A center for repairing German armored vehicles opened in Ukraine on Monday, making Germany’s Rheinmetall one of the first foreign arms producers to establish a facility inside the besieged country. 

The center, located in western Ukraine, is already working to maintain and repair Marder infantry fighting vehicles, according to a Rheinmetall press release. The company plans more repair centers elsewhere to repair other German weapons, including Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 tanks. 

“This facility will allow us to ensure quick repairs and maintenance of German equipment directly on Ukrainian soil, significantly enhancing the efficiency of our Armed Forces,” said Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Dmytro Klimenkov, according to the Rheinmetall press release.  

The move is a “good sign,” said Pavlo Verkhniatskyi, a Ukrainian analyst who co-leads the defense working group of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council. Initiatives with major defense manufacturers, like Rheinmetall, play a “positive role in attracting other players,” Verkhniatskyi said. 

Rheinmetall has trained Ukrainian industrial mechanics and engineers in Germany, the press release said.  

Ukraine has received at least 100 Marders since Russia’s full-scale invasion in early 2022. The vehicle is a Cold War-era design; the German Army now fields the newer Puma. Ukraine has also received dozens of Leopard tanks, which Ukraine pressed for ahead of its ultimately failed summer counter-offensive last year. 

The tanks currently must be sent abroad to be repaired. Some have been repaired in Lithuania, hundreds of miles from Ukraine’s front. A lack of repair parts has also slowed repairs, according to German politician Sebastian Schäfer. 

A separate Rheinmetall plan, announced last year, seeks to establish production of German armored vehicles in Ukraine. 

Other major defense manufacturers have announced similar plans to set up repair or co-production facilities in Ukraine. Last December, BAE announced plans to repair cannons in Ukraine, and French companies have signed on to a number of co-production agreements. Rheinmetall’s facility appeared to be the first announced repair facility, however. 

Moving repair centers into Ukraine fits within a broader Ukrainian push to establish more domestic manufacturing of a wide-range of armaments following delays in the supply of Western military aid. U.S. companies are involved in the effort, according to a State Department official. 

“Several U.S. companies are working on artillery ammunition projects in Ukraine,” they said.