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The Greek Army has presented the first six of 40 Marder 1 A3 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) on order at the National Day parade in Thessaloniki. Greece will receive the 40 IFVs in exchange for the same number of Russian-built BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) that the country is handing over to support the Ukraine’s defensive campaign. Greece plans to deploy the IFVs near the Turkish border.

The German government is funding the sales through the ‘Ringtausch’ project, which Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced back in May 2022. The project involves exchanging Soviet or Russian military equipment in service with European countries for Western equivalents, with the Soviet equipment sent to Ukraine. Greece’s Marder IFVs also will be supplemented by ammunition and integrated service packages, which include training and spare parts.

Rheinmetall had already begun preparing these vehicles for deployment (initially at its own expense) in the spring of 2022. The other IFVs are to be overhauled and delivered to Greece by the end of 2023.

With the acquisition of the Marder 1A3, Greece will become the sixth user of the vehicle, which has been in series production since 1969. While Argentina acquired a light tank variant of the IFV under the name Tanque Argentino Mediano (TAM) starting in 1977, Chile (starting in 2008), Indonesia (starting in 2015) and Jordan (starting in 2017) received the Marder 1A3. With the exception of Argentina, the later recipients, along with Greece, received refurbished vehicles from Bundeswehr stocks. The Bundeswehr had also sold some of the vehicles to the Rheinmetall over the course of troop reductions.

In its 51st year of service, the Bundeswehr still uses the Marder in its mechanised infantry formations. The most recent variant is the Marder 1A5, which features improved protection, especially against mines, and an improved powertrain. The new 550 kW engine compensates for some of the loss of mobility caused by the increased weight. The Bundeswehr initially planned to replace the Marder entirely with the new Puma IFV, however, at present, it is unclear whether sufficient Pumas will be procured, or what the future concept for Germany’s medium-weight forces will be.