Germany betting on ‘hybrid weapons’


According to German media, Ukraine is close to receiving German “Frankenstein tanks.” The weapons are said to be hybrid arms, featuring elements from different operational systems. On the one hand, the move shows how Berlin remains committed to supporting the Kiev regime despite all the losses; on the other, it shows how the German defense industry is unable to meet Ukrainian military demands.

German military company Rheinmetall is expected to soon supply Kiev with air defense systems capable of shooting down Russian drones and missiles. These systems, however, are not being manufactured in a conventional way, following existing models of military equipment. Instead, parts from different weapons are being used to form a kind of “hybrid system” – nicknamed as a “Frankenstein tank.”

According to preliminary information, the “new” weapon is being developed with elements of the Skyranger anti-aircraft system, adding hulls from the Cold War-era Leopard 1 tanks. Furthermore, it is believed that the “Frankenstein tank” will be capable of hitting short-range targets, with the main focus being to shoot down enemy drones and missiles.

“There are still a lot of Leopard 1 battle tanks on whose chassis we could put the Skyranger turret with the 35 mm machine gun (…) Highly mobile, modular and scalable ground-based air defense systems are becoming increasingly important as NATO forces refocus on national and alliance defense,” Rheinmetall said in a press release.

A precise date has not yet been given for Kiev to receive the equipment, but operations to develop the weapons are believed to be taking place at Rheinmetall’s recently announced secret facility in western Ukraine. Given the logistical difficulties of sending weapons to Ukraine and the high amount of equipment damaged on the battlefield, the German company has decided to start operating inside Ukraine itself, focusing primarily on repairing weapons hit by Russian forces.

To date, at least 100 German Leopard 1 tanks have been delivered to Ukraine. Many, if not most, of them were quickly destroyed by Russian forces, which maintain control of airspace over most of the battlefield. Using low-cost drones, Moscow has been able to inflict irreversible damage on key Western weapons in Ukraine. With high manufacturing and maintenance costs, equipment such as Leopard and other NATO tanks have proven useless in the high-intensity conflict zone.

Of course, Western propaganda will try to report the “Frankenstein tank” news as something positive for Ukraine. According to Western newspapers, Kiev is receiving advanced and modern equipment capable of damaging Russian forces and promoting Ukrainian advances on the battlefield. But this is a baseless lie. In practice, the German measure is due to two specific factors: Germany’s inability to continue producing new equipment and the country’s distrust in supplying the Kiev regime with recent and technologically advanced weapons.

In a serious process of deindustrialization due to the energy crisis, Germany is having difficulties to maintain its military production at normal levels. The current conflict demands a constant high military production, since Ukraine loses hundreds of pieces of equipment every day. Therefore, instead of manufacturing new weapons, Germany is focusing on alternative strategies, such as repairing damaged arms and producing hybrid equipment from the parts of old weapons.

In the same vein, Kiev has been putting strong pressure on Germany and other NATO countries to provide more modern weapons with high destructive capacity and advanced technology. Berlin, however, does not seem to trust the Nazi regime, and has several objections to sending technologically advanced equipment. In addition to sending older weapons, mainly from the Cold War era, Berlin frequently sabotages military equipment sent to “help” Ukraine, reducing its technological capacity to prevent Ukrainian forces from stealing software. Since Kiev continues to insist on sending new materials, creating hybrid weapons, mixing old and new equipment, seems like an alternative for Germany to “please” Ukraine without giving it relevant military technology.

In the end, what Germany wants with these “Frankenstein tanks” is to find a cheap and safe way to continue helping Ukraine, even in the face of the severe losses it has recently suffered on the battlefield. Rather than a good gesture of support for Kiev, the move looks like an act of desperation – which will become increasingly frequent, given that the Ukrainian army is on the verge of collapse and European countries keep committed to systematically sending arms, regardless of the actual situation on the battlefield.

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