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Marder 1 infantry fighting vehicle

Germany

Marder 1

Marder 1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle
Unveiled / Entered Service
1971
Marder 1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle
Status
In Service
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Table of Contents

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Introduction

The Marder 1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle was developed and manufactured in the Former West Germany in the 1960's. It has served both the former West German Army and the current German Army (following German reunification in 1990) as its principal Infantry Fighting Vehicle.

It was the first IFV in the NATO Alliance to feature an Anti-Tank Guided Missile launcher as standard. Despite the development and production of its replacement, the Puma Spz which entered service in 2015, the Marder 1 still remains in service as the Puma has not been manufactured in sufficient numbers. Since 2016, Rhienmetall has been developing and implementing a life extension program to keep at least 300 Marder 1 in service until the vehicle is 60 years old.

With that said, since the end of the Cold War, the German MoD has gradually been reducing the number in service and placing them in storage. These have since been sold on as surplus stock to a number of other countries.

Background

Prototype RU 261 from 1964
Prototype RU 261 from 1964

The West German Army had been operating the HS.30 Infantry Fighting Vehicle since 1960, which had so many flaws and issues, the West German government cancelled production and just under a quarter of the intended ordered vehicles entered service.

Development of an indigenous Infantry Fighting Vehicle started after the HS.30 had entered service, this time though using predominately West German companies.

Two Groups of German and Swiss companies were created and each awarded a development contract. The Rheinstahl group was Rheinstahl-Hanomag, Ruhrstahl, Witten-Annen, Büro Warnecke and the second group was Henschel Werke and the Swiss MOWAG company.

Batches of early prototypes were delivered to the army in 1960 from both groups – 3 from Hanomag, 2 by Henschel and 2 by MOWAG. The next generation of prototypes were delivered from 1961 to 1963 – 4 by Hanomag, 1 by Henschel and 3 by MOWAG. To meet the armies need for a new tank destroyer, development resources of some of these companies was switched to the Kanonenjagdpanzer project.

Full time development of the Marder picked up again in 1967, with the production of 3 prototypes by Hanomag, 4 by Henschel and 3 by MOWAG.

The 10 pre-production vehicles were hand over to the army for troop trials in 1968, which were completed in the Spring of 1969 followed by Rheinstahl being selected as the primary production contractor and MaK as sub-contractor.

The first production vehicle was handed over to the Army in the Spring of 1971. By the time production had ended in 1975, Rheinstahl had built 1,160 vehicles, while MaK built 976.

Marder 1 Timeline – Copyright Rheinmetall

Firepower

The Marders firepower focuses on a two man turret occupied by the commander (right) and gunner (left). The principal weapon is the 20mm Rheinmetall Mk 20 Rh-202 chain gun.

Machine gun ports for the infantry to fire from were mounted on the sides and rear of the hull, so should the vehicle find itself in a nuclear contaminated area, the infantry could fight the enemy from within the vehicle.

In the early Marder’s there was an additional machine gun remotely operated by the infantry, though this was later removed during upgrades.

Further firepower enhancements included a dual feed for the Rh-202. It mean’t the gun had one feed of AP rounds and another for HE rounds. The gunner could switch between the two by the press of a button depending on the targeting he was engaging. A new thermal sight for the gunner was also introduced at the same time to enhance the vehicles night time capability.

A game changer for the Marder was the addition of a Milan Anti-Tank Guided Missile launcher mounted on the right side of the turret. The Commander was required to lean out of his turret cupola to operate it and guide the missile on to the target.

The Milan was replaced on the Marder 1A5 with the Mells ATGM system (Spike-LR) from 2016 onwards and thereafter some A3.

Protection

The Marder is constructed of all welded steel offering protection against artillery splinters and Machine Gun fire. This was later improved with new ceramic plates attached to mounts that are about 2 inches tall across the whole of the hull in response to the Soviet BMP-2.

The vehicles layout was also designed to add additional protection. The engine bay is located at the front and acted as an additional armoured block. The hulls front was a long angled slope which helps against shaped charge weapons like the RPG-7.

The crew of the turret are sat further down in the bustle compared to other IFV like the M2 Bradley, offering them more protection and less risk of being shot. The vehicle also features protection against Nuclear, Biological, Chemical attack as well as a fire detection and suppression system.

Mobility

The Marder is powered by a MTU MB 833 Ea-500 diesel engine with a Renk 4-speed (forward and reverse) semi automatic transmission. This should allow the Marder to operate the same speed in reverse as going forward.

The vehicle uses torsion bar suspension and can ford in water of 1.5m in depth and 2.5m with a wadding kit.

Variants and Marks

Marder 1 Models

  • Milan Launchers were fitted to all Marders from 1977 to 1979.
  • A1+ New thermal sights for gunner and dual feed for the 20mm chain gun from 1979-1982
  • A1- Designation for A1 that did not receive the thermal gunners sight, but did get the dual feed
  • A2 Changes to the chassis, fuel tanks, suspension and cooling system. Both A1 models were upgraded to the A2 and thermal sights from the A1+ added to the A1-, so all vehicles had the same sight. Works carried out through out the mid to late 80’s.
  • A3 All A2 upgraded to this model. Featured new ceramic plates attached to welded mounts that are roughly two inches high across the whole of the hull. The roof plates added extra protection against cluster munitions and 20mm AP rounds across the frontal arc. Despite changes in the suspension, the A3 was 5km/h slower than earlier models.
  • A4 Dedicated commanders model based on the A3 but with SEM 93 cryptographic radios.
  • A5 A total of 74 vehicles were upgraded to the A5, with first deliveries starting in 2002. These had internal layout changes and additional mine protection as well as new armoured skirts.
  • A5A1 A total of 35 A5 vehicles were upgraded. Features additional AC unit (mounted rear left side) IED jammer and Barracuda matting camouflage covering for use in Afghanistan.

Marder 1 Life Extension Program 2016 to Present

As of 2022, its planned to keep 300 Marder 1 in service of the 382 in service as of 2022 and will serve along side the new Puma. This program applies to some A3, A5 and A5A1. The program started in 2016.

The initial development was the integration of the MELLS Anti-Tank Guided Missile system (Spike-LR) to replace the dated Milan systems. In 2017 this was installed on all Marder 1A5 vehicles.

From 2017 to 2019 a number of pilot projects were started to replace obsolete parts. These resulted in a number of retrofit kits for the A5 and A3.

The first kit was a new fire detection and extinguisher system in 2019. In 2021 a new SPECTUS II driver vision system and rear-view camera and separate infra-red spotlight. In 2021, 73 of the A5 received a new SAPHIR 2.6 MK thermal imaging device and new drive-train, digitized drive-train electronics and modifications to the gears.

Marder 1 Variants

Marder VTs1 #1977

VTS-1 experimental gun carrier

VTS-1 experimental gun carrier consisting of a 105mm gun on a Marder hull by the company Thyssen-Henschel. READ MORE

Argentinian TAM Tank #1979

Argentinian TAM Tank
Argentinian TAM Tank

The Tanque Argentino Mediano (Argentine Medium Tank) is a medium tank in service with the Argentine Army and is a further development of the Marder chassis and hull.

Marder Roland #1982

Marder Roland
Marder Roland

Marder 1 hull adapted to use the Roland short range Surface to Air Missile launcher. No longer in service.

Marder DF105 #1980’s

DF-105
DF-105

A Joint project with France who supplied the FL-15 turret (Fives Cail Babcoc) and Germany (Thyssen Henschel) the Marder hull.

Marder M12

Marder M12
Marder M12

Developed for the export market, aka KUKA M12 or Marder MK 30, the vehicle featured a Marder 1A3 hull married to a Rheinmetall’s E4 turret which housed a stabilized 30mm Mauser MK 30-2 Chain gun. The vehicle was submitted to the Swiss Army Schützenpanzer 2000 Program. It did not attract any international orders.

Marder IFV With Lance RC #2011

Marder 1 Lance RC Turret
Marder 1 Lance RC Turret

Part of the Evolution vehicles, Rheinmetall installed their unmanned Lance RC turret as a tech demonstrator.

Marder Evolution Tank #2012

Marder 1 Evolution Medium Tank

Developed by Rhienmetall, it features an up-armoured Marder 1 hull with a Oto-Melara turret and 105mm rifled main gun.

Marder Evolution APC #2012

Marder 1 Evolution APC

Developed by Rhienmetall, it features an up-armoured Marder 1 hull with a M151 Protector Remote Weapon Station.

Marder Medium Tank #2016

Marder Medium Tank RI

AKA Marder Medium Tank RI, it was developed for the Indonesian Army and featured a Hitfact II 3-man crew turret armed with a 105mm main gun.

Operators

Chile

200 surplus vehicles were sold from German storage in 2008.

Germany

A total of 2,136 Marder 1 were built for the former West German Army and subsequently passed on to the new German Army (current). The number of vehicles in service in 2022 was 382, with a planned 300 remaining in service in both A5 versions and some A3 until such time that the Puma has been built in sufficient numbers when the Marder 1 will be celebrating its 60th birthday.

Since 2016 these Marder 1 have been going through a life extension program. The remain vehicles have been put in storage of which some have been sold to other countries as surplus stock.

Indonesia

42 surplus vehicles were sold from German storage in 2015.

Jordan

75 vehicles were transferred as part of a military assistance program from 2017 – 2020.

Ukraine

140 A3 vehicles have transferred to Ukraine in support of the ongoing war.

Combat History

Kosovo War (KFOR) 1999

The German Army formed part of the KFOR force and deployed both their Leopard 2 and Marder 1 IFV. The vehicle was used to reinforce checkpoints and provide force protection in convoys.

Afghanistan War (ISAF) 2007

A total of 35 Marder 1A5A1 were deployed with the German Army as part of ISAF. These upgraded vehicles arrived in-country in 2007.

Russian Invasion Of Ukraine 2023

As part of the ongoing support of Ukraine, between 2023 and 2024, 140 Marder 1A3 have been donated from German Army reserves. These vehicles have been serviced by Rhienmetall prior to shipping. We have seen at least one vehicle destroyed by a Russian ATGM strike on social media footage.

Very High Joint Readiness Task Force (VJTF) 2023

The leading nation of the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force is rotated every year and in 2023 the VJTF was led by Germany until the UK took over in 2024. The Marder 1 formed part of the German contingent.

Specifications

characteristic
Result
Main Gun
20mm Mk 20 Rh-202 Chain Gun
ATGM Capability
Milan
Secondary Weapons
Coaxial 7.62mm Machine Gun, Optional Remote Weapons Station with MG
Ammunition Storage
1,250 20mm / 5,000 7.62mm
Engine
MTU MB 833 liquid cooled diesel 600hp
Transmission
Renk 4-speed
Top Road Speed
65km/h (A3)
Road Range
65 km/h
Fuel Capacity
652 litres
Vertical Obstacle
1m
Water Capability
1.5m wading / 2.5m with kit
Trench Crossing
2.5m
Gradient
60%
Side Slope
30%
Length Gun Forward
N/A
Length Hull
6.88m
Width
3.38m
Height
1.9m Hull top / 3.01m turret top
Ground Clearance
0.44m
Weight
29.9 Tonnes
NBC Protected
yes
Standard Armor(s) Type
Steel, Laminated, Spaced
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Modular
Active Protection Systems
no
Crew
Commander, Gunner, Driver
Infantry
5