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Armored infantry vehicle Marder
Schützenpanzer Marder

The Marder is a German made infantry fighting vehicle introduced in 1971. Its main armament is a 20-mm automatic cannon and an antitank guided missile launcher. The well-armored Marder was armed with a 20-mm. gun and coaxial 7.62-mm. machine gun in a turret, and allowed the infantrymen to fight from within the vehicle. It has been produced in several variants and is in use in at least two countries.

Marder is German for Marten. A marten is a predaceous little traveler, more of a climber than the mink, but also a great hunter among thickets, logs, and such things. The general residence of the common marten is in woods and copses -, and the nest is formed in a hollow tree, a chink of a rock, or a hole in a wall, if the place is sufficiently sequestered. It is well formed of dry grass and moss. There is another strong instinct which the marten evinces, even when tamed—it has an implacable hostility to cats, and lets slip no opportunity of springing upon them and inflicting a mortal wound. In the forests, diminutive as it is in comparison, it battles stoutly with the wild cat. There seems, however, to be an instinctive love of freedom and the wild wood inherent in the very nature of the creature ; for, though it is ever so playful, and ever so good-natured, it lets slip no opportunity of regaining its liberty and joining its wild companions. The marten has thus a noble trait in its character—it can be tamed, but it will not be enslaved.

The German Army was the first to mechanize infantry forces on a significant scale. By the close of World War II the German mechanized infantry force concept had been proven the most effective tank and infantry combination. As the country primarily concerned with a Soviet attack on Western Europe, Germany paid close attention to the Red Army’s development of tactics and force structure. As it rearmed in the 1950s, the Bundeswehr initially considered itself to be the offensive striking arm of NATO, developing a highly mechanized force in the process. For this reason, it was the first NATO army to develop an IFV, the Marder, allowing true mounted combat for its panzergrenadiers.

Although the development of combat vehicles was only resumed in West Germany in the mid-fifties, it provided several examples of the effective use of test beds to explore and to develop new design concepts. Some of the earliest German examples of test beds were those built to explore the different configurations possible for infantry combat vehicles and to resolve questions about the location of the weapon station. Should it be manned by one or two men? In fact, three or four generations of test beds were built between 1960 and 1967 before the design of the Marder infantry vehicle was finally developed.

Infantry fighting vehicles [IFV] hold an important place in ground forces. The first models of these vehicles were adopted in the 1970s. The IFV as a means of combat and transportation for the infantry squad was intended to increase infantry's fire capabilities, provide it with mobility under conditions of combat activities, and give it protection against small arms fire and the fragments of artillery and mortar rounds. IFV's must carry out close and continuous coordination with other weapons of the ground forces, and with tanks above all. Tracked and wheeled APC's in the inventory had an insufficient level of protection and their armament basically was designed for self-defense. The FRG was the first NATO country to begin developing an IFV. The essence of the West German concept of the IFV is as follows. The IFV is not a reinforced APC but a new combat weapon. The infantry basically must fight in IFV's, dismounting only in those cases where it is impossible or inadvisable to use these vehicles. It is emphasized that the tank and IFV are fighting vehicle partners operating in the same combat formation and distributing combat missions among themselves in an optimum manner. To ensure the possibility of such use the IFV must have an increased level of protection close to that of the tank and must have effective armament. Conditions must be created permitting riflemen to use their personal weapons.

The anticipated large numbers of armored targets combined with shallow operational depth moved German combined arms theory towards firepower rather than maneuver. German operational doctrine of 1973 stated, “with fire, the defender can achieve a superior effect against the enemy who is compelled to move . . . the annihilation of enemy tanks is of decisive importance.” Marder firepower was perceived as critical to this anti-tank battle. The flaw in this vision was the failure to account for the numbers of Soviet dismounted infantry available to complement their admittedly large tank force.

Upon the initial development of the West German Marder in the late 1960’s, the Soviets preempted the fielding with the BMP. A true armored fighting vehicle capable of rapid offensive combined arms operations in actual or threatened nuclear warfare. For the first time in the history of infantry, the small unit leader (squad, platoon & company) was not only traveling to the fight mounted with armor protection, but he and select members of his squad could conduct the fight while mounted.

The Rh-202 20-mm automatic gun with double-belt feed installed in an above-turret mount is used as the main armament of this non-amphibious vehicle. A 7.62-mm machine gun is coaxial with it. A low-profile turret accommodates the vehicle commander and gunner, who have redundant weapon control drives. The Marder IFV armor was designed for protection against projectiles of small-caliber cannon and the fragments of large-caliber artillery and mortar rounds. The vehicle's high mobility is provided by use of a six-cylinder 600 hp diesel engine, hydro-mechanical transmission, individual torsion-bar suspension with telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers, and tracks with rubber-metal articulated joints.

The Marder IFV assault group can fire from the vehicle through four ports (two on each side), and the assault group commander from a 7.62-mm machine gun with remote control installed on the hull roof plate. The Marder IFV was modernized in the early 1980's, chiefly to increase firepower by improving day and night vision devices, surveillance devices and aiming devices as well as the mount of the detachable Milan ATGM, and by strengthening protection against conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction. The vehicle's weight then increased to 30 tons.

A design analysis was performed and models of the Marder IFV were manufactured and tested with a 25-mm automatic gun, for which a finned composite shot of increased power was created. A vehicle with the LWT-3 turret stabilized in three planes of laying (armed with a 20-mm automatic gun) also underwent tests. In 1985 the FRG Ministry of Defense announced a change in nomenclature of armored fighting vehicles being developed for the Bundeswehr for the 1990's. Among the priority projects is creation of a new infantry fighting vehicle which should be delivered to the ground forces in 1996. The overall requirement for such vehicles is estimated at 2,500.

As of 1989 it was planned that Tank brigades in the early 1990s would be equipped with Leopard 2 main battle tanks, replacing remaining Leopard 1 and M-48 tanks then in operation. All tank brigades were to be equipped with the Marder fighting vehicle; slightly less than one-half were to acquire the Marder 2, while the remainder were to receive upgraded Marder 1 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) in the early to mid-1990s. A subsequent purchase of Marder 2 vehicles was an option to equip all brigades. Finally, tank brigades were to be equipped with Panther tank destroyers, as well as other reconnaissance armored vehicles. The Structure 2000 plan introduced five light infantry brigades, which continued to rely on M-113 APCs for troop transport, although these may be replaced by Marder 1s transferred from mechanized and tank units.

Beginning in 1989, approximately one-half of the Marder 1 A1/2 vehicles currently in tank and mechanized brigades were to be upgraded to the A3/4 version. Upgraded Marder 1s remained in tank brigades, while non-upgraded Marder 1s were to remain in mechanized brigades until the middle of the 1990s. In 1996, the first production order of 841 Marder 2 AFVs was scheduled to enter the tank brigade inventory, replacing the Marder A3/4 version, which was then planned to replace non- upgraded Marder 1s in mechanized brigades. An additional production run of more than 1,000 Marder 2s would be required to replace remaining upgraded Marder 1s in mechanized brigades. The requirement for Marder 2 totaled about 2,100.

The Schützenpanzer Marder 1 A3 of the mechanized infantry troops was equipped with additional components, making it possible to use this system as a observer vehicle. A GPS receiver was a further radio SEM 90, to antennas, a holder for the target device TZG 90, as well as a box calculator MRT 86 modified scaffold. Thus an observer usage is sat down as well as direct from the vehicle possible. The usage passage on is possible but only when the vehicle is stationary. The seamless transmission of target data is transmitted wirelessly to the FüWES Eagle by MRI. The Schützenpanzer Marder is an armored full tracked vehicle of the Panzergrenadiere with a crew of 3 and dismounted strength of 6 soldiers).

The plan upgraded the combat effectiveness of all Marder 1 APC's used by armored infantry units to the status of the lA3's. Work on this project started in 1989. The original plan to integrate a 25-mm weapon was abandoned along with the plan to equip the vehicles with a new turret and an even more powerful weapon at a later date. The funds saved as a result were to be applied to the Marder 2 APC. The combat effectiveness upgrading program was designed to improve ballistic protection up front and to protect the vehicle against the 30-mm cannon of the BMP-2. The entire vehicle also was to be protected against artillery shell fragments. The armor required for this purpose altered the appearance of the vehicle appreciably. For another thing, the space problems inside the APC were alleviated, since the new tail ramp as well as stowage compartments above the tracks can be used for storing personal belongings. The stowage compartments replaced the bell mounts on the sides of the vehicle. The mounting of the new extra armor was designed in such a way that it can be upgraded at a later date through the use of even stronger armor under development.

Although work had started on the development of a new armored personnel carrier, there were still some who would rather see a more continuous combat effectiveness upgrading of the Marder 1. They called for more sophisticated protection, a new turret and a 35-mm weapon because the 20-mm cannon which would continue to be used on the Marder really was no longer threat adequate. The same, in fact, applied to 25-mm cannon, as tests had shown.

Originally, the ageing Marder fighting vehicle was supposed to have been replaced by an entirely different vehicle: the Marder 2. The conceptual phase for the future armored personnel carrier Marder 2 started in July 1986. In September 1987, the various manufacturers submitted their proposals and it was the Krauss-Maffei proposal which carried the day. Krauss-Maffei began working on a so-called harmonization phase in the course of which rough edges were to be smoothed, additional requests were considered and certain questions to be answered. As far as Krauss-Maffei's competitors were concerned this means that "the good points of our design are going to be incorporated."

The vehicle projected by Krauss-Maffei was quite similar in appearance to the US M-2 Bradley. As a consequence of the demands for all-round protection, the combat weight of the vehicle was more than 40 tons. The conventional design two-man turret built by Rheinmetall was equipped with an RH 503 35/50-mm cannon and thermal imagers for both the commandant and the gunner. The vehicle had a MTU Diesel 883 motor. Both the motor and the gear box were, of course, front-mounted. The infrared-camouflaged exhaust was on the front left and there were two doors for the crew in back. The vehicle included many parts identical to the Leopard 2, which had a great bearing on its winning out in the competitive bidding.

The German government commissioned the former Krauss-Maffei to build a complete trial vehicle to be presented in 1991. Just as with the Marder fighting vehicle, Rheinmetall played a key role in this project. The prototype was equipped with a cannon which permitted rapid barrel and calibre changes from 35 to 50 mm. The military technical trials were performed at the Münster combat training facility to the satisfaction of all involved.

In 1991 field trials of the new Marder 2 IFV began. It is claimed that field trials were successful. It was planned that the Marder 2 will enter service with the German Army in 1998 and replace the previous Marder IFV. However, the Marder 2 was dropped from the Bundeswehr planning in 1992 in response to the changing political parameters. The vehicle was not accepted to service due to the funding problems. With the end of the Cold War the new vehicle was no longer required, so the project was cancelled. Instead, the combat capability of the the Marder 1 IFV was enhanced and upgraded in multiple steps – naturally with the close involvement of Rheinmetall. The Marder 2 prototype, on the other hand, was relegated to a museum.

What finally emerged two decades later was the Puma.

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