Hellenic Defence & Technology reports that in the last days of 2009 the Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELVO), in cooperation with Rheinmetall AG made an official offer to the General Army Staff for the procurement of 422 second hand, refurbished and fully operational Marder 1A3HEL Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs).
The vehicles are from German Army stock and are offered as an interim or complementary solution to the planned BMP-3M AFV procurement. The advantage to the Marder offer is that the quick timeframe at which the vehicles can be delivered. The Greek requirement for AFVs is for 933 units, of which 840 for the Infantry and 93 for Cavalry formations. Even of both the Marder offer is accepted and the BMP-3M acquisition is carried out the total requirement will not be met.
The total cost of the Marder offer is for €200 million, excluding value added tax, which goes up to €230 million for options which include 126,600 armour piercing 20x193mm AP-T DM63 rounds, 3 training vehicles, tooling and additional equipment, new camouflage netting, night vision equipment for driving and a one year extension to the basic one year warranty offered by ELVO. All refurbishment work is to be carried out at ELVO on the basis of German Army technical guidelines and supported by Rheinmetall AG. Additional work would be carried out to bring the vehicles to Greek Army specification in order to operationally integrate them with the Leopard tank fleet. If the offer is accepted the AFVs will have TRC-9200 radios installed from Greek Army stocks and will retain the German internal communications system. 135 vehicles will receive the Iniochos Command and Control system with the integrated GPS/INS to make them fully compatible with the Leopard 2HEL tanks. They will also be equipped with the ability to take MILAN launchers, although the MILAN launchers and missiles are not part of the package offer. Further work will include the replacement of some mechanical parts, fire extinguishing equipment, placement of licence plates and painting with Greek Army camouflage paint for a reduced infrared signature. Based on the offer the deliveries can start in 7 months from agreement and ELVO will deliver at least 15 vehicles per month.
The delivery schedule is an advantage as the possible BMP-3M procurement will not see deliveries for at least 2 to 2.5 years. This programme will require at least 18 months to develop and certify the prototype INTRACOM electronic/communications package as well as the installation of additional armour by the Russian side. Hellenic Defence & Technology estimates that this will take longer, especially for the Command & Control version and that the process will be completed in 2017 providing there is considerable Greek involvement in the project.
The procurement of the Marder 1A3, apart from its low cost, has several operational advantages. The vehicle has a proven track record for being compatible with Leopard 2HEL and A4 tanks as well as Leopard 1A5 tanks currently in the Greek Army. Furthermore the vehicle has several parts in common with the Leopard 1A5 which the Greek Army has in large numbers.