Germany should send all operational Marder vehicles to Ukraine: vice chancellor

A Marder infantry fighting vehicle of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Germany should send all operational Marder infantry vehicles to Ukraine, Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said on Friday, following an announcement on Thursday by U.S. and German leaders saying they were sending armoured fighting vehicles to Ukraine.

Germany and U.S. to send armoured vehicles to Ukraine

The leaders of the United States and Germany on Thursday announced they were sending armoured fighting vehicles to Ukraine, ramping up military...

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Germany broke the news on Thursday that it would provide Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) to Ukraine, stepping up on military support for Kyiv to drive out Russian forces after a similar move by France earlier this week.

What Marder has to offer is 30 tons of reliable tracked means of transport fitted with 20-millimetre auto-cannons, MILAN anti-tank missiles and steel armour to protect the crew.

With roots in the Second World War, the Marder is not a new vehicle. However, it has aged well, like wine, and it remains one of the world’s better IFVs owing to a great balance of speed, protection, firepower and capacity. The vehicle is capable of travelling 40 miles per hour with three crew and six infantry inside, easily keeping up with the German army’s Leopard tanks. Its signature use is dropping off infantry in the middle of a combat area under fire, then supporting the troops with cannon fire and missiles.

With these delivered to the Ukrainian army, it’s set for a significant upgrade.

But the Ukrainians are up for another military donation. In a joint statement after a call between President Joe Biden and Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the United States said it would provide Ukraine with Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

Lighter than the Marder, the BAE Systems-produced M-2 Bradley IFVs weigh 25 tons. Being an armoured personnel carrier, the M-2 boasts a 25-millimetre chain gun, a launcher for TOW anti-tank missiles, laminate armour that can deflect heavy machine-gun fire and a troop compartment that can fit six infantry. These properties render the IFVs capable of shuttling troops around the battlefield and accompanying and protecting tanks and dismounted infantry.

Although perhaps not the world’s best IFV as experts suggest, the now 40-year-old armoured vehicle is arguably superior to even the newest BMP IFVs in the Russian and Ukrainian arsenals.

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the Bradleys are part of a larger shipment of equipment to Ukraine that will be announced later.

The incontestable upside of the M-2s is that the U.S. Army has thousands of them. A force of even a few hundred of the vehicles would come as a significant improvement to the Ukrainian army’s offensive combat power.

While the Ukrainians didn’t have enough IFVs when the Russian onslaught began in February, with the IFV shortfall being even greater a year into the war, with the German and U.S. equipment deliveries, this may change and with a good outcome for the defenders, who would be capitalising on improved army the mobility, protection and firepower. And these are going to come in handy during a planned major counteroffensive in 2023.