At the behest of the German government, Rheinmetall is once again supplying Ukraine with Schützenpanzer Marder infantry fighting vehicles. Awarded in May 2023, the order is worth a figure in the lower-two-digit million-euro range. The Marders are due to be delivered this summer. Acting on behalf of the German government, Rheinmetall already shipped the first of twenty Marder IFVs to Ukraine back on 21 March 2023. Ukraine received a further twenty of these tried-and-tested vehicles directly from existing Bundeswehr stocks. In addition to the Marders ordered to date, Rheinmetall can make a further sixty available. Work on this is already underway at Rheinmetall’s plants in Kassel and Unterlüß. Up to ten infantry fighting vehicles can be delivered per month.
Under the German government’s “Ringtausch” programme, Greece will also be receiving forty Marder IFVs. These too are to be shipped this summer. The “Ringtausch” is a multilateral equipment exchange programme designed to support Ukraine’s war effort in the face of Russian aggression. In cooperation with Germany’s European neighbours and NATO partners, Soviet-era heavy equipment is being transferred to Ukraine in exchange for surplus Western-made systems. Rheinmetall is taking part in various “Ringtausch” exchanges involving the armed forces of Greece, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. The vehicles being made available are overhauled Marder 1A3 systems formerly owned by the Bundeswehr. As early as spring 2022, Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH began restoring the infantry fighting vehicles to a state of immediate combat readiness at its own expense at its sites in Unterlüß and Kassel.
The Schützenpanzer Marder 1 is a tracked German infantry fighting vehicle designed for use with the West German Panzergrenadiere units, mechanized infantry specialized for IFV combat. It has been operated by the German Army as the main Panzergrenadiere IFV from 1970s through to the present day. Developed as part of the rebuilding of West Germany’s armoured fighting vehicle industry, the Marder has proven to be a successful and solid infantry fighting vehicle design. Developed for the Bundeswehr and still in service with the German Army, the Marder infantry fighting vehicle numbers among the most reliable weapons systems of its kind anywhere. Steadily modernized, the vehicle has undergone repeated combat upgrades in the course of its career.
The hull of the Marder 1 is all welded steel, giving protection from small-arms fire and shell fragments. The front of the hull provided protection from up to 20 mm armour-piercing discarding sabot (APDS) rounds. Later variants increased protection up to 30mm APDS, in response to the 30 mm autocannon armed BMP-2 and the development of top attack cluster bomblets. The Marder is a relatively conventional design, with the driver sitting at the front left side of the hull with the engine to his right. The driver has three day periscopes mounted in a hatch that opens to the right. The center periscope can be replaced by a passive night vision device. The primary armament is the 20 mm Rheinmetall MK 20 Rh202 autocannon. It is mounted in the small two-man turret and can fire either armour-piercing or HE rounds. Mounted coaxially to the left of the cannon is a 7.62 mm MG3 machine gun.