On December 14, 2022, the German army released pictures showing the new Wiesel 1 MELLS, a new anti-tank light airborne tracked armored vehicle which is now entered into service. The new anti-tank vehicle is based on the Wiesel 1 air-transportable armored weapon carrier vehicles which were delivered to the German Army between 1989 and 1992.
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The new German army Wiesel 1 MELLS light anti-tank tracked armored vehicle. (Picture source Germany Army)
The German BAAINBw (Federal Office of Bundeswehr -Germany army Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support) has commissioned the German company FFG to modernize the entire Wiesel 1 fleet of the German army and to reduce the number of different versions of the vehicle.
FFG converted the different Wiesel versions to the 3 remaining versions including an anti-tank vehicle equipped with the MELLS missile system, a reconnaissance vehicle and a combat vehicle with a 20 mm automatic cannon. A total of 181 Wiesel 1 vehicles were converted by FFG.
The Wiesel 1 MELLS is a modified version of the Wiesel 1 TOW which is armed with a TOW ATGW (Anti-Tank Guided Weapon) launcher system manufactured by the American company Raytheon Systems.
The Wiesel 1 air-transportable armored weapon carrier was developed to meet the requirements of the German Army. Between 1989 and 1992, the German Army took delivery of a total of 345 Wiesel 1 vehicles armed with a Raytheon Systems Company TOW ATGW launcher or a Rheinmetall 20 mm cannon. In addition, another seven vehicles were delivered to the US armed forces and four of these were used for robotic trials purposes.
The Wiesel 1 has a very unique design which is based all-welded steel construction hull of a length of 3.31 m and a height of only 1.89 m. Thanks to its weight of only 2.800 kg, it can be easily transported by military transport aircraft or airdropped.
The Wiesel 1 MELLS is armed with the MELLS anti-tank guided missile weapon system which is based on the Israeli-made Spike LR2. Germany has established a production line of Spike-LR complex, named MELLS (Mehrrollenfähiges Leichtes Lenkﬂugkörpersystem) on the sites of joint venture EuroSpike GmbH. EuroSpike GmbH was founded by the German companies Diehl BGT Defence GmbH & Co.KG, Rheinmetall Defence Electronics GmbH, and the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
The MELLS is a multirole-capable lightweight guided missile weapon system designed to engage and destroy armored vehicles at ranges of up to 4,000 m, or 5,500 m with the enhanced Israeli-made Rafael-made Spike long-range (LR) guided missile.
The Spike LR2 missile has an effective range of 5.5 km and can be equipped with Highly capable tandem HEAT and Smart fuse-controlled multi-purpose warheads. The guidance system of the missile includes a dual modern Electro-optical missile seeker with both uncooled IIR sensors/High-quality day sensor
Close view of the MELLS anti-tank weapon system mounted on the Wiesel 1 light airborne tracked armored vehicle. (Picture source German army)