According to the Bundeswehr, however, the cheetah was primarily developed to protect the Panzer and Panzergrenadier troops from attacking aircraft and helicopters at low altitudes during accompanying operations. It can hit air targets at a range of around 5,500 meters and ground targets at a range of up to 2,000 meters.
“Together with the anti-aircraft missile tank (FlaRakPz) Roland and most recently the light anti-aircraft system Ozelot, the cheetah formed the army air defense system of the Bundeswehr,” says the Bundeswehr website. The cheetah was in use in the Bundeswehr almost until the army air defense force was disbanded ten years ago.
So leopard, marten and cheetah are all tanks, but they differ in their functions. However, Lambrecht did not explain these differences in the government statement.
Instead, she emphasized that the German government is sticking to its intention not to deliver any “western-style tanks” to Ukraine, since other countries are not doing this either. According to Lambrecht, there will be no “German solo effort” on this issue. The Federal Security Council has therefore not yet approved export applications from the industry for Leopard and Marder tanks.
On Twitter, some users criticized Lambrecht’s statements about the Cheetah tank: “But if it’s not a tank, then what is it?” asked one. “Obviously Ms. Defense Secretary Lambrecht hasn’t delved deeper into her department yet,” commented another.
The Bundestag member Serap Güler (CDU) wrote about the incident on Twitter: The cheetah “does not just shoot (…) in the air, but at enemy targets. And he does not do this with a barrel, but with two machine guns.” Lambrecht made the cheetah statement after Güler’s party colleague Florian Hahn asked why Germany didn’t supply martens but cheetahs.
“Pretty much at the limit of what is still responsible”
The defense minister had previously spoken in detail about German support for Ukraine in using heavy weapons in the war against Russia. Next week, Ukrainian soldiers will begin training on the Mars II multiple rocket launcher system promised by Germany, Lambrecht said. After completing the training, the system can be delivered to the Ukraine.
The deployment of the Mars II multiple rocket launcher system is “in preparation,” said the minister. As already announced, Germany will provide three such systems, Great Britain also three and the USA four.
The rocket launchers come from Bundeswehr stocks, as do the seven Panzerhaubitzen 2000, whose delivery to Kyiv the federal government had previously confirmed. With the surrender of the two weapon systems, Germany has “rather reached the limit of what is still responsible” if national and alliance defense is to be further guaranteed, Lambrecht conceded. According to them, the delivery of the Iris-T air defense system from the armaments industry – and the Cheetah tank – is still planned.