Germany sends Marder 1A3 IFVs to equip two Ukrainian battalions

On 4 January 2024, Germany announced a new aid package for Ukraine, including 10 new Marder 1A3 infantry fighting vehicles. This brings the total number of Marder 1A3 sent by Germany to 90, enough to equip two entire Ukrainian mechanized battalions.
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German Marder 1A3 IFV Infantry Fighting Vehicle (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The new German aid to the Ukrainian armed forces includes a series of equipment, but our focus will be on the provided Marders, their technical characteristics, and their utility within the Ukrainian forces.

The Marder is armed with a 20 mm MK 20 Rh202 automatic cannon and a 7.62 mm MG3 coaxial machine gun. It is also equipped with a MILAN anti-tank missile launcher, enabling it to engage armored targets from a distance. With standard protection against small arms fire of 7.62 mm caliber and shell splinters and an enhanced armor package in its 1A3 version capable of resisting 30 mm cannon ammunition, the Marder offers increased safety to its occupants compared to its predecessors.

These vehicles weigh 33,500 kg and can reach a maximum speed of 65 km/h, with a range of about 500 km. They are equipped with passive night vision devices, thermal sights, an air conditioning system, and NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) protection. The Marder can carry a crew of three and six infantrymen, with dimensions of 6.88 meters in length, 3.38 meters in width, and 3.015 meters in height.

A Ukrainian mechanized battalion, as structured in modern armed forces, is a unit composed of infantry soldiers and armored vehicles, designed to offer a combination of mobility, firepower, and protection. Key elements of such a battalion typically include Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs), battle tanks, artillery pieces, as well as logistical and command support units.

The IFVs, such as the Soviet or Russian BMPs, are the core of a mechanized battalion. They transport infantry troops across the battlefield while providing direct fire support with their armament, which usually includes cannons and machine guns. Tanks, like the T-64 or T-72, provide additional firepower and are essential for engagements against other armored vehicles and the destruction of enemy fortifications. Mechanized battalions are often supported by artillery, such as self-propelled howitzers, to provide long-distance indirect fire support. Logistical support is also crucial for ammunition, fuel, and repair resupply, as well as medical and communication units. Finally, vehicles and systems dedicated to command and control enable effective coordination of the various units within the battalion.

The integration of German Marders into a Ukrainian mechanized battalion will bring several advantages. The Marder, equipped with a 20 mm automatic cannon and an anti-tank missile launcher, offers enhanced combat capability against armored vehicles and enemy infantry. With its reinforced armor, the Marder provides better protection against light arms and shell splinters, thus reducing risks for the crew and transported soldiers. By transporting soldiers directly to the front, the Marders improve the infantry's ability to deploy quickly and effectively in varied combat situations. In total, the 10 German Marders can arm an entire company of Infantry Fighting Vehicles and the 90 sent since the start of the conflict can equip a total of two mechanised battalions. A Ukrainian mechanised battalion contains between 40 and 50 IFVs, so this aid is far from insignificant.

In addition to the Marders, Germany will provide Ukraine with a diversified arsenal, including IRIS-T (SL) missiles, a Skynex air defense system (as previously discussed on Army Recognition), ground surveillance radars, artillery ammunition, and more. Each element of this military aid package will play a key role in strengthening Ukraine's defensive capabilities.