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Belgium: In Mr. Versluys' tank depot


A Belgian businessman hoards dozens of tanks in a warehouse. Particularly piquant: The army had once sold him the last of his own copies - which are suddenly worth money because of the Ukraine war.

AreaRead the video transcript expand here

In this huge warehouse in Tournai in eastern Belgium they are waiting – to be scrapped or still used: used military vehicles, including dozens of German-made Leopard 1 tanks, predecessors of the Leopard 2.

Freddy Versluys, businessman:


We bought it on the market about eight years ago.

You can buy it here, but of course we can't use it as it is.

We need a full upgrade, we need to look at the fire control system.

So we need to get them back into shape before we can use them in any form on the battlefield.


The business model: Versluys and his company buy discarded military equipment in the hope that someone will want it in the future.

Because of the war in Ukraine, arms dealers like him are in for a hefty extra deal.

Freddy Versluys, businessman:


I just recently received a call from the Ukrainian government.

So there is a lot of interest.

But that's because the German government has now issued export licenses, which have not existed until today.

We're also talking to the UK and Swedish governments, so there are a lot of governments that are interested.

But we have to wait and see what happens.


Versluys had a public dispute with Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder about the possible delivery of tanks to Ukraine.

Because Belgium has so far refused to deliver its own battle tanks there - mainly for one reason: it no longer has any of its own.

The army discarded and sold the last 50 tanks five years ago - to Versluys' company.

Ludivine Dedonder, Minister of Defense of Belgium:


These Belgian tanks were sold at a price of 10,000 to 15,000 euros each because they were no longer functional.

Nothing prevents us from repurchasing them, but they are not operational.

And we won't buy them back at unreasonable prices either.

At the moment there are Belgian companies making an unreasonable profit margin.




At what price would they be resold?


Ludivine Dedonder, Defense Minister Belgium:


A few months ago they gave us a sell-back price of 500,000 euros each for a vehicle that is stored in a warehouse and that could be used again with little work.


In other words: Versluys' bet to buy up old war equipment cheaply and sell it again at a large profit could work out - even if some of the vehicles first have to be repaired.

Because in the Ukraine war every day counts – and every single tank.

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2023-02-02

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