DÜSSELDORF (dpa-AFX) - The arms manufacturer Rheinmetall now intends to build its Lynx infantry fighting vehicle in the Ukraine. A letter of intent to this effect was signed with the country on the fringes of the reconstruction conference in Berlin, Rheinmetall announced in Düsseldorf on Wednesday. The tank has so far been produced in Germany and Hungary.

Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger explained in the press release that the company intends to start manufacturing these systems in Ukraine in the near future. "We also want to hand over the first Lynx infantry fighting vehicles to the country this year." The Minister for Strategic Industries, Oleksandr Kamyshin, told Handelsblatt: "We will produce the first Lynx this year." Ukraine has been defending itself against a Russian invasion for more than two years.

According to a Rheinmetall spokesperson, production will be taken over by the joint venture Rheinmetall Ukrainian Defense Industry. Rheinmetall holds 51 percent of the shares, 49 percent belong to the Ukrainian state-owned company UDI.

The Rheinmetall press release mentions a "framework agreement yet to be concluded for the delivery of several hundred" Lynx infantry fighting vehicles. This would also include training, maintenance and repair.

Ukraine and Rheinmetall are already working together on several projects. Among other things, they agreed in February to manufacture 155mm artillery shells in a joint "Ukrainian Competence Center for Ammunition". Rheinmetall is also to have a 51 percent majority stake in this company.

One day, Ukraine will join the EU and NATO, Kamyshin added according to the press release. "Both organizations will thus have a strong partner with a strong defence industry that does not compete, but complements each other. Let's build the arsenal of the free world together."/tob/DP/ngu