The Panzerlehrbrigade 9 (9th Armoured Demonstration Brigade) , part of Germany’s 1st Armoured Division, under the operational control of 1 German-Netherlands Corps (I. German/Dutch Corps), use M3 amphibious rigs to transport armoured vehicles across the Weser River near Eystrup, Germany. Germany will lead NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in 2019, and will be responsible for its quick deployment anywhere that NATO may need it. This exercise was a warm-up for that role. The VJTF is NATO’s quick reaction force, made up of over 5,000 troops ready to move within two to five days. The ability to move forces and equipment across borders is a big priority for NATO. The Alliance works on this with its members, as well as with the European Union.
The M3 Amphibious Rig is a self-propelled amphibious bridging vehicle that is used for the projection of tanks and other vehicles across water obstacles. Originally developed by the German firm Eisenwerke Kaiserslautern (EWK, since 2002 acquired by General Dynamics European Land Systems), it succeeded the conceptually similar M2 made by the same company. The M3 is self-deployable by road, operating as a 4×4 wheeled vehicle with a maximum road speed of 80 km/h. In water, the M3 is propelled and steered by 2 fully traversable pump jets at speeds of up to 14 km/h. Multiple rigs may be joined by long connectors called “ramps”, 4 of which are carried on each vehicle, to form a bridge across a water obstacle. 8 M3 Rigs will bridge a 100m water gap this way, and can be traversed by vehicles up to and including the heaviest 60+ ton main battle tank like the Leopard 2A6 and Challenger 2.
The Panzerlehrbrigade 9 is a formation of about 5,000 men strong within the German Armed Forces or Bundeswehr, which is subordinated to the 1st Armoured Division in Hanover. The bulk of the brigade is stationed in Munster. Two battalions are based in Neustadt am Rübenberge. The brigade has become the “showcase of the German Army” as a result of its German Army Combat Vehicle and Aircraft Demonstration Exercises (Informationslehrübung Gefechts- und Luftfahrzeuge des Deutschen Heeres) which it has conducted for decades. These exercises demonstrate the capability of the Army’s fighting vehicles and aircraft and how they operate jointly in various scenarios. The formation is classified as an armoured brigade within the Bundeswehr’s intervention forces.
1 German-Netherlands Corps (I. German/Dutch Corps) is a multinational formation consisting of units from both the Royal Netherlands Army and German Army. The corps’ headquarters also takes part in NATO Response Force readiness rotations. It is situated in Münster (Northrhine Westphalia), formerly the headquarters of the German Army’s I. Corps out of which 1 German/Netherlands Corps evolved. The corps has national and multinational operational responsibilities, and its commanding officer is the only one in Europe to have OPCON in peacetime. Due to its role as a NATO High Readiness Forces Headquarters, soldiers from other NATO member states, the United States, Norway, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Greece, Turkey, Czech Republic and Belgium are also stationed in Münster.