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At the armored troop school in Munster, the Freundeskreis Panzergrenadiere e. V. and Rheinmetall presented the Marder infantry fighting vehicle, which joined the troops 50 years ago, with a ceremony. On May 7, 1971, the German Army took the first series vehicles into use. This happened at the time with simultaneous ceremonies in Kassel and Kiel - the headquarters of the original manufacturing companies ThyssenHenschel and Krupp MaK. Both companies have been part of the Rheinmetall Group since 1999 and 2001 respectively. Due to the pandemic, the ceremony originally planned for the beginning of May had to be postponed to October.

As Rheinmetall continues to write in a press release, when designing the armored personnel carrier, the focus was on national defense in Central Europe: in conjunction with the Leopard 1 main battle tank, the marten should make a significant contribution to the army's flexible combat management. However, its history of use held quite different challenges in store for it. In the “Cold War” the marten was only used for training and in large-scale maneuvers, which were intended to underline the defense readiness of the NATO partner, the Federal Republic of Germany.

Festakt 50 Jahre Schützenpanzer Marder – Panzergrenadiere feiern ihr Arbeitspferd
Pre-production vehicle of the Marder armored personnel carrier (Photo: Archives KTS II / III)

In the meantime, no Leopard 1 has been in use by the Bundeswehr for a long time. The same applies to other contemporaries of the marten in military history, including the Luchs reconnaissance vehicle, the Starfighter F-104 fighter aircraft or the BO 105 and Bell UH-1D helicopters. The marten, on the other hand, had to prove itself in missions abroad, including in Kosovo or Afghanistan. As part of the Quick Reaction Force in Afghanistan, he was involved in firefights in Kunduz and Mazar-e Sharif. The marten still serves in the German armed forces today. In addition to Germany, Chile, Indonesia and Jordan also use the marten.

Festakt 50 Jahre Schützenpanzer Marder – Panzergrenadiere feiern ihr Arbeitspferd

Rheinmetall claims to have expertise and experience with the armored personnel carrier. On behalf of the German Armed Forces, the company has carried out various measures in recent years to increase combat value and extend the service life of part of the German marten fleet. This included the equipping of combat room cooling systems, new visual aids for drivers, gunner and commanders, the integration of the multi-role MELLS light guided missile system and a new drive train.

With the measures currently being taken to extend the useful life of the marten, it should be possible to operate the marten by the end of this decade. The extremely reliable and tried and tested marten will remain an important workhorse of the German Panzer Grenadiers for a few years to come, even if a change of epoch is already becoming apparent in the type of service: On March 18, 2021, the Army Inspector declared the tactical combat capability of the Panzer Grenadier system. The Panzergrenadier system essentially consists of a new design version of the Puma infantry fighting vehicle, supplied by the PSM GmbH joint venture led by Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, and the VJTF2023 version of the infantryman of the future soldier system developed by Rheinmetall. It should make a significant contribution to the effectiveness and combat suitability of the VJTF 2023.

Festakt 50 Jahre Schützenpanzer Marder – Panzergrenadiere feiern ihr Arbeitspferd
Panzergrenadier system (Photo: Rheinmetall)

With the Panzergrenadier system, this association is bringing together a digitized vehicle platform for the first time in Germany - the Puma infantry fighting vehicle in the improved VJTF expansion stage - with a soldier system equipped with digital radio technology. The close networking of sensors and effectors of both soldiers and armored personnel carriers minimizes the time between reconnaissance and action. This amalgamation into an overall system enables effective tactical interaction between the soldiers and their armored personnel carriers and increases the operational value of the armored infantry troops. To mark the anniversary of the Marder armored personnel carrier, Rheinmetall has published a brochure in which the renowned tank expert Rolf Hilmes describes the history of the marten. The in-depth tank history overview is also available online: 50 years of Marder armored personnel carriers

Editor / lah