Berlin greenlights Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine - media reports

The German government has given a greenlight to the shipment of "Leopard 2" tanks to Ukraine, according to reports in Der Spiegel.

The German online news website said the government is prepared to authorise the transfer of at least one company behind the "Leopard 2A6" model to the embattled country.

Berlin has been facing increasing international pressure over the past few days to approve the dispatch of the tanks to Ukraine. Olaf Scholz, German Chancellor, had the final say, and it is believed that the government will also approve licences for other allied countries to deploy the tanks to Ukraine.

With almost 3,500 units active in 19 other countries worldwide, Rheinmetall AG, a German defense contractor that makes the 120mm smoothbore gun on the Leopard 2, says the tank has been deployed by “more nations than any other."

What are the Leopard 2 tanks?

Germany's Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, the manufacturer of the Leopard 2, touts it as “the world's leading battle tank" that for nearly a half-century has combined aspects of firepower, protection, speed and maneuverability, making it adaptable to many types of combat situations.

The 55-ton tank has a crew of four and a range of about 500 kilometres, and top speeds of about 68 kilometres per hour. Now with four main variants, its earliest version first came into service in 1979.

Its main weapon is a 120mm smooth bore gun, and it has a fully-digital fire-control system.