Between 1987 and 1993, Switzerland bought 380 Leopard tanks from Germany. While a good third is still in use, 96 are stored as reserves. The federal government would like to buy back a few of them. And apparently there are now other interested parties.
After Germany, the Czech Republic has also expressed an interest in old Leopard 2 tanks from Swiss stocks. The Swiss Defense Minister Viola Amherd said on the television channel SFR. How many tanks it should be is unclear. Switzerland is ready to hand over a certain number of Leopard tanks after a corresponding decision by Parliament, said Amherd with a view to the inquiries from Germany and the Czech Republic.
A spokesman for the Czech Ministry of Defense said when asked that the "purchase of tanks from Switzerland" had not been discussed. "But if Switzerland wanted to give us their Leopard 2 as a reward for our help in Ukraine, we certainly wouldn't be against it."
At the end of February, the federal government asked Switzerland for approval for the German armaments group Rheinmetall to buy back decommissioned Leopard tanks. The Ministry of Defense in Berlin did not say how many tanks Rheinmetall wanted to buy. Since Switzerland is not allowed to deliver weapons to countries at war due to its principle of neutrality, Berlin assured that it would not send the tanks to Ukraine. The tanks are intended to fill the gaps that have arisen from deliveries to Ukraine in Germany or at NATO and EU partners.
The Swiss Army has 134 Leopard 2 tanks in service and 96 Leopard 2 tanks in storage. They were bought between 1987 and 1993. The tanks are regularly tested, but have not been modernized. The neutrality debate in Switzerland has become more topical since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While the Alpine country - which is not a member of the EU - supports the sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union, it has so far been adamant about its military neutrality. However, various initiatives to relax the regulations are being discussed in Parliament, but a decision is not expected for a few months.