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The Dutch armed forces have awarded Rheinmetall an order for the second phase of modernization of their fleet of BERGEPANZER 3-BÜFFEL/BUFFALO armoured recovery vehicles (ARV). The operational effectiveness of 21 vehicles will be upgraded, following a first order covering four vehicles, awarded in April 2019.

Rheinmetall will begin work immediately on bringing the batch of vehicles up to the latest technological and tactical standards, extending the service life of these tried-and-tested combat support vehicles – developed by Rheinmetall on the basis of the LEOPARD 2 chassis – through to 2040. The Dutch armed forces will take delivery of the first vehicles at the beginning of 2021.

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

This service life extension will give the Dutch armed forces a reconfigured state-of-the-art ARV with significant growth potential. New force protection features both on and in the vehicle will keep the crew safe from modern battlefield threats. Cutting-edge visualization systems, digital operating elements and command systems will support the crew while carrying out their tasks. Furthermore, new battlefield recovery equipment will boost the vehicle’s tactical effectiveness. It will be transferred to the rear section of the vehicle. This will let the crew hook up to damaged army vehicles 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 BÜFFEL will feature a flexible-use universal transport platform mounted on the rear section of the vehicle. To cite just one example, this can be used for carrying equipment for recovering other vehicles. The new equipment has already demonstrated its effectiveness during 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 modernize its BERGEPANZER 3 fleet, ensuring it remains a match for current and future operational scenarios. Similar mission configurations are in service with the armed forces of Canada and Sweden.

Already underway, this service life extension programme underscores once again Rheinmetall’s comprehensive expertise when it comes to the LEOPARD 2 family. This expertise extends from maintenance and modernization programmes to advanced armament concepts, and from the production and technical knowledge of the system’s original equipment manufacturer right through to comprehensive technical and logistic support for entire vehicle fleets – including service support during operations. The Rheinmetall portfolio also includes training and simulation solutions for Leopard 2 crews.

A further 21 BÜFFEL ARVs will be upgraded under the new Ducth armed forces contract. (Photo: Rheinmetall)

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