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The new thermal imaging sights for the Marder 1A5 infantry fighting vehicle are to be installed in the tanks from June 2021. The Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Federal Armed Forces has signed a contract with Rheinmetall Defense as the main contractor for the manufacture and delivery of the devices after the budget committee of the Bundestag approved the project in early October. The measure is part of extending the service life of the Marder armored personnel carrier, which the Defense Ministry wants to keep operational until at least 2030.

In order to keep the downtime of the vehicles for the troops as short as possible, the ordered devices as well as the previously ordered components for drive trains, anti-tank weapons systems, driver's night vision systems and fire warning and extinguishing systems are usually installed during scheduled repairs. In the case of particularly important orders and missions, for example in the context of national and alliance defense, targeted and advanced retrofitting takes place.

The thermal imaging target device Saphir 2.6 MK (Marder configuration) has been specially developed by Rheinmetall Electronics for the Marder armored personnel carrier. Production takes place with numerous suppliers in Germany. Modern components from AIM Infrared-Module GmbH, Heilbronn - a Rheinmetall holding - ensure long-term specialist knowledge for German security interests, for example.

The core technology is already being used in large numbers in the German Armed Forces and by other international customers and can therefore also be used quickly in the Marder. This results in synergies in the procurement and operation of the devices.

Wärmebildzielgeräte für Schützenpanzer Marder 1A5 unter Vertrag
The Saphir 2.6 MK kit, photo: Rheinmetall

The modern generation of devices Saphir 2.6 MK makes it possible to considerably extend the observation range and reconnaissance quality during the day and night. This is due, for example, to the higher resolution of the detector and modern display technology. Thanks to modern image processing software from the Saphir family, the full performance of the components is achieved under all conditions.

Wärmebildzielgeräte für Schützenpanzer Marder 1A5 unter Vertrag

Together with the integration of the multi-role MELLS light guided missile system and new Marder driver's night vision devices, there will be considerable tactical advantages for soldiers in their dangerous missions, day and night.

The Marder armored personnel carriers were given to Chile, Indonesia and Jordan from the Bundeswehr's surplus. For these users, too, the Saphir 2.6 MK thermal imaging target device could be an important component in maintaining operational readiness.

Gerhard Heiming