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The Dutch Army has selected Rheinmetall to modernise its Bergepanzer 3 BUFFEL armoured recovery vehicles (ARV), the company announced on 30 April.

The contract, which was signed on 18 April, covers an initial batch of four vehicles, followed by a second batch of a further 21. The upgrade and modernisation programme will bring the vehicles up to the latest technological and tactical standards, which will extend their service life to 2040 and retain significant growth potential. The Dutch armed forces will take delivery of the first modernised vehicles at the beginning of 2021.

Modernisation work will take place at Rheinmetall locations in Germany and the Netherlands. It will include a complete overhaul of the ARV and a new digital operating concept; the installation of advanced visualisation technology; mission packages featuring ballistic and mine protection; and new battlefield recovery equipment, together with a universal transport platform. Also included in the contract are technical documentation, training and other services.

New force protection features both on and in the vehicle will enhance crew survivability. Cutting-edge visualisation systems, digital operating elements and command systems will support the crew while carrying out their tasks. Furthermore, new battlefield recovery equipment, to be transferred to the rear of the vehicle will boost the vehicle’s tactical effectiveness. This will allow the crew to hook up a damaged vehicle such as the BUSHMASTER, BOXER, CV 90 infantry fighting vehicle, PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer, LEGUAN bridge-laying tank, KODIAK combat engineering vehicle or the LEOPARD 2 main battle tank, without having to leave the safety of the fighting compartment, before towing it from the battlefield at high speed in forward gear. In addition, the modified version of the BUFFEL ARV will feature a flexible-use universal transport platform mounted on the rear, which can be used for carrying equipment for recovering other vehicles. The new equipment has already demonstrated its effectiveness during deployed operations.

This contract confirms the emergence of a new standard for modern armoured recovery vehicles. As recently as December 2018, the Bundeswehr contracted with Rheinmetall to modernise its fleet of BERGEPANZER 3 vehicles, ensuring they remain a match for current and future operational scenarios. Similar mission configurations are in service with the armed forces of Canada and Sweden.

The modernisation programme for the Dutch Army’s fleet of BUFFEL ARV is already under way. (Photo: Rheinmetall)

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