The Bundeswehr has contracted Rheinmetall to manage extending the service life of the MARDER infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), the company announced on 20 January.

To maintain operational readiness of the vehicle, the drivetrain of 71 MARDER 1A5sd will be replaced: Rheinmetall will supply 78 conversion kits, delivered from 2020-2023, as well as tools, logistical support, an initial store of spare parts and training and instruction. The service life extension programme, valued at approx. €110 million, will maintain and expand the capabilities of the MARDER, which the Bundeswehr first fielded in 1971.

As a first step, a new powerpack will be installed in all vehicles, boosting the MARDER’s engine output from 600 to over 750HP, significantly enhancing the proven vehicle’s responsiveness.

Under a comprehensive development contract, the MARDER fleet has already undergone significant modernization. For example, the new MELLS multirole lightweight antitank guided missile system has recently been integrated into various versions of the MARDER, while a new driver vision system, a thermal imaging aiming device and a fire detection and extinguishing system have also been ordered. Series contracts have already been awarded for parts of this service life extension, with performance upgrades now reaching the troops.

First and foremost, these service life extension measures are designed to eliminate recognised elements of obsolescence in the MARDER. Individual measures can be supplied as modular conversion kits and – as part of planned maintenance operations, for example – integrated in order to assure ready availability of the vehicles.

Placed in December, this Bundeswehr order could potentially lead to more service life extension measures, both at home and abroad: the armed forces of Chile, Indonesia and Jordan all operate MARDER, in addition to Germany. Extremely reliable and battle tested, the MARDER is set to serve as an important asset of Germany’s mechanized infantry units for several more years, even though the Bundeswehr is currently taking delivery of the last of 350 PUMA IFV intended to replace it.

Although being replaced by the PUMA IFV, MARDER requires a degree of modernization in order to extend its useful service life and overcome obsolescence issue. (Photo: Rheinmetall)

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