Armor: Modernized Marder To The Rescue


February 18, 2020: Germany has decided to upgrade some of its Marder 1A5 IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicle). This effort will cost $121 million for 71 Marder 1A5 vehicles. These will be repaired and modernized, an effort that won’t be completed until 2023. The cost of this effort includes logistic support, which includes tech support and an adequate supply of spare parts. There also be new components and repairs as needed. A major boost will come from replacing the current 600 HP engine with a more modern 750 HP one. This new engine improves Marder mobility considerably but not to the levels found in the new Puma IFV and its 1,088 HP engine.

The new round of upgrades include: modification to driver vision system, new fire extinguisher system, a new thermal imaging system for the gunner and integration with MELLS anti-tank guided missile (ATGM). The last is a license-produced Israeli Spike LR missile which currently replaces older TOW and Milan systems mounted on some vehicles. MELLS is a state-of-the-art missile capable of destroying modern armor at ranges of up to 4 kilometers. 

The Marder IFV dates back to the early 1960s when West Germany looked for a common platform for various armored vehicles. They put emphasis on crew protection and mobility and wanted a vehicle that could keep up with Leopard 1 tanks. The Marder entered service in 1971 and received multiple upgrades over the years. The main armament consists of a  20 mm automatic cannon and Milan ATGM. The Marder can transport six soldiers in addition to the three-man crew. The current Marder 1A5 weighs 37 tons, up from 29 tons for the first versions. The weight increase came from additional armor, a new turret and various mechanical additions and improvements. All that additional weight made the Marder sluggish because it still had the original 600 HP engine.

The German Army planned to replace the aging but still capable Marders with a modern Puma IFV but, due to budgetary constraints, the program was delayed. Currently, the Germans have about 382 Marder 1A5 and 350 Puma IFVs. However, in 2019 the army secured additional funds to obtain a second batch of 210 Pumas. If those vehicles actually enter service then more Marder 1A5 could be phased out. The modernized Marder 1A5s will be able to serve until 2025 or 2030.

The German Army received their first mass-produced Puma IFVs in 2016. Puma is operated by a crew of three and carries six passengers. There are three variants ranging from A (around 31 tons) to C (43 tons). To ensure sufficient mobility the vehicle is fitted with a new high power 1088 horsepower diesel engine which gives a great power-to-weight ratio. --- Przemyslaw Juraszek




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