Germany sends rocket system to Ukraine
Germany has delivered a fresh batch of heavy arms to Ukraine, its Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht confirmed on Tuesday. The shipment includes the first of several multiple-launch rocket systems promised by Berlin to Kiev, she said.
“The promised Mars II multiple rocket launchers and another three self-propelled howitzers [PzH] 2000 have been delivered,” Lambrecht told journalists. “We keep our word,” she added. According to the German media, at least three Mars-II systems have been sent to Kiev.
Mars-II is a European modification of the US-made MLRS M270 multiple rocket launcher, which was jointly developed by Germany, Italy and France. According to the German KMW company, which is one of the system’s producers, Mars-II is capable of firing up to 12 missiles in a minute at a range of over 70km. According to media reports, it can fire guided missiles using a GPS system or mine-ejecting missiles.
Apart from Mars-II, the fresh weapons shipment also included three PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers, bringing the number of such long-range artillery systems delivered to Ukraine to ten. Lambrecht also spoke of five self-propelled ‘Gepard’ anti-aircraft guns supplied to Ukraine. On Monday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov confirmed receiving three such systems together with “tens of thousands of rounds” of suitable ammunition for them.
Germany had previously promised to deliver at least 30 ‘Gepard’ air-defense tanks to Ukraine. The first shipment of 15 tanks is expected to have arrived before the end of this month, while another 15 are to be delivered in August.
On Tuesday, Berlin promised to send a Cobra-type artillery radar to Ukraine in September. “The contract has already been signed,” Lambrecht told journalists, adding that Ukrainian troops will soon start their training on “this highly complex system.”
According to the media, Germany will also start training Ukrainian soldiers on the Iris-T SLM anti-aircraft missile systems “in a few days.” Chancellor Olaf Scholz repeatedly promised to send Kiev Germany’s most modern air-defense system. The announcement even caused some confusion earlier this year when the Bundeswehr – the German Armed Forces – admitted they do not have a ground-based version of the IRIS-T system themselves.
According to German media reports, Kiev will get the promised air-defense system no earlier than November. According to reports on Tuesday, a “spanking” new system will arrive in Ukraine “in autumn.”
This is the second time Berlin has sent heavy weapons to Kiev. Back in June, Germany transferred seven PzH 2000 howitzers along with other military hardware to Ukraine. Previously, the country supplied Ukrainian forces with thousands of portable anti-tank and anti-air missiles, tens of thousands of anti-tank mines, as well as millions of rounds of ammunition. However, Kiev and even the former Ukrainian ambassador to Germany have still repeatedly criticized Berlin for what they called reluctance to send military aid to Ukraine and the slow pace of deliveries.
In July, Lambrecht admitted that Germany had to send Ukraine weapons from its own army stocks and its capacity was limited. On Tuesday, she also said that both the multiple rocket launchers and howitzers had come from Bundeswehr stocks.