Ukraine welcomes Rheinmetall's new facility for production of Fuchs and KF41 Lynx armored vehicles

In December 2024, Armin Papperger, the CEO of Rheinmetall, announced - as reported by Bild newspaper - the start of production for the Fuchs 6x6 armored vehicles and KF41 Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) in Ukraine, beginning in 2024. This initiative signifies a major milestone in industrial expansion and defense collaboration between Germany and Ukraine.
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Rheinmetall Fuchs 6x6 armored vehicles (Picture source: Bundeswehr)

It's important to recall a major announcement made by Armin Papperger in July 2023. On July 10, 2023, during an interview on CNN, he stated that Rheinmetall planned to construct a production facility in Ukraine. The aim was to assist the country in achieving military independence by providing NATO technology and production capabilities, thus reducing its reliance on external aid, including that from the United States and the European Union.

Papperger highlighted significant improvements in military procurement procedures, which enabled Rheinmetall to secure major contracts with the German government. In 2023, the company signed contracts and framework agreements worth over 10 billion euros to equip both the Bundeswehr and Ukraine. These orders could further increase, potentially reaching up to 15 billion euros in 2024.

He also emphasized a notable increase in the speed of production and delivery, with projects that would normally take a decade now being completed in just a few months. A striking example is the rapid construction of a new ammunition factory, symbolizing this increased efficiency and aiming to ensure strategic supply security.

The anticipated contract, expected to be finalized next year, represents a substantial expansion of Rheinmetall's role in enhancing Ukraine's defense capabilities. Papperger stated that once the contract is signed, the first Fuchs vehicle should be ready in Ukraine in about six to seven months, and the first KF41 Lynx in twelve to thirteen months. Production in Ukraine is expected to start by the end of summer 2024 for the Fuchs, and potentially by summer 2025 for the Lynx, positioning it as a serious competitor to the Puma series.

In a proactive move, Rheinmetall has already begun manufacturing the first ten Lynx vehicles in Germany and Hungary, in collaboration with Ukraine. Papperger highlighted the potential for a significant increase in production rates in Ukraine after an initial ramp-up phase. The German federal government has indicated its willingness to grant the necessary export licenses, paving the way for this ambitious project.

The rapid advancement of this collaboration is due to the already strong partnership between Rheinmetall and Ukraine, with Rheinmetall being the largest defense industry partner for the country. In 2022, Rheinmetall received orders amounting to approximately 900 million euros, a figure that surged to around 2.5 billion euros in 2023. Papperger anticipates even higher order volumes in the coming year.

Rheinmetall's commitment to Ukraine extends beyond vehicle production. The company is already involved in the maintenance of armored vehicles in Ukraine and has been instrumental in training Ukrainian workers in Germany for this purpose. The start of Lynx series production in Hungary further exemplifies the company's expanding footprint in the region.

The Rheinmetall KF41 Lynx is an advanced Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), designed and manufactured by the German company Rheinmetall Defence. This advanced combat vehicle is engineered to meet the diverse and demanding requirements of modern warfare. It features a modular architecture, allowing for significant adaptability in terms of armament, protection, and mission-specific configurations. The Lynx is equipped with advanced armor and active protection systems, providing exceptional survivability against a range of threats including anti-tank missiles, improvised explosive devices, and direct fire. Its firepower is centered around an automatically loaded cannon, complemented by anti-tank guided missiles and a coaxial machine gun, offering formidable offensive capabilities. Designed for high mobility in various terrains, the Lynx can transport infantry while providing direct fire support, making it a critical asset in both offensive and defensive operations.

The Fuchs (Fox) 6x6 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), also developed by Rheinmetall, is a well-established vehicle in military service. Known for its reliability and versatility, the Fuchs APC has been utilized by numerous armed forces around the world. The vehicle's 6x6 all-wheel drive system provides excellent mobility across different terrains, from urban environments to rugged off-road conditions. The Fuchs is designed to safely transport troops in conflict zones, offering robust protection against small arms fire, shell splinters, and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats. Its modular design allows for various configurations, including command and control, reconnaissance, and medical evacuation, making it a multifunctional platform in military operations. The Fuchs has seen extensive use in various international missions, underscoring its effectiveness and adaptability in a wide range of operational scenarios.