Rheinmetall is to supply some 260 SAPHIR 2.6 MK thermal imaging aiming devices to the Bundeswehr to equip German Army MARDER combat vehicles, the company announced on 9 November. The order is valued at €27 million and the devices are to be delivered in 2022 and 2023.

The advanced SAPHIR 2.6 MK (the suffix indicating ‘MARDER configuration’), developed specifically for the MARDER by Rheinmetall Electronics, will replace existing obsolete thermal imaging aiming devices used for reconnaissance and target engagement. The scope of delivery includes extra devices for stockpiling as well as related accessories. The devices will be manufactured with the aid of an entirely German supply chain – for example components from AIM Infrarot-Module GmbH (a Rheinmetall affiliate), will safeguard critical German defence technology expertise for the foreseeable future.

The Bundeswehr and other armies already use the core technology on a large scale. Its use on the MARDER, too, will result in synergies in procurement and operation. Importantly, the latest generation of the SAPHIR 2.6 will significantly improve its observation range and round-the-clock reconnaissance quality, as a result of greater detector resolution and state-of-the-art display technology. The advanced image processing software of the SAPHIR family means full component performance is now assured under all operating conditions.

Combined with integration of the MELLS multirole lightweight guided missile system and the new MARDER driver's night vision device, this innovative technology will result in substantial tactical advantages for deployed troops by day and night. German mechanised infantry units will continue to use MARDER for several more years, and the armies of several other nations also continue to rely on robust, battle-tested infantry fighting vehicle. For these users, too, the SAPHIR 2.6 MK is an important element in maintaining the vehicle's combat readiness.

The new thermal imaging device will provide the German mechanised infantry with significant tactical advantages. (Photo: Rheinmetall)

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