Rheinmetall is one of the oldest and most recognised European defence companies. Its history dates back to 13thApril 1889, when the firm “Rheinische Metallwaaren- und Maschinenfabrik Aktiengesellschaft” was founded. Its first assignment was to supply the German army with ammunition from the newly established factory in Düsseldorf. After World War I, lost by Germany, under the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, the company had to switch to the civilian market in 1919, so Rheinmetall got engaged in the production of steam locomotives, steam-powered agricultural machinery, and office equipment.
True, a cautious return to the arms industry began as early as 1921, and in World War II, Rheinmetall was one of the most important production capacities of the German army. During World War II, the company’s factories and sites were severely damaged, and after the war the firm lost the control over its plants in the East German territories.
Rheinmetall did not return to the defence market until 1956, when production of the MG 42 medium machine guns resumed in Düsseldorf. In 1964, the reorganized company became capable of manufacturing artillery assets, and 1979 saw the first Leopard 2 main battle tanks with the legendary 120 mm smoothbore cannons of Rheinmetall in their turrets commissioned.
Today Rheinmetall’s defence capabilities cover nearly all segments of the market. Besides the above mentioned tank guns and the 27-millimetre autocannon family (the BK-27 variant is fitted in the Hungarian JAS-39EBS HU Gripens), the Lynx tracked infantry combat vehicle, developed in collaboration with Maffei Wegmann, is of particular importance for Hungary. The Bundeswehr has long used the distinctively designed 6×6, wheeled TPz Fuchs armoured personnel carriers and their successor, the 8×8 Boxer. The reconnaissance, communications, cyber defence, and IT solutions, as well as modular digital systems to assist future riflemen are also worth mentioning.
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