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Germany could find Marder IFVs in its inventory for Ukraine after all, report says

Marder IFVs for Ukraine
German defense ministry file photo of a Marder IFV

The German military could find Marder infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) in its inventory that could be given to Ukraine, despite previously saying it had no surplus vehicles available.

After Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy specifically asked for the tracked IFVs at the beginning of Russia’s invasion, German officials, including defense minister Christine Lambrecht, said that all 343 vehicles were essential for the Bundeswehr’s own needs.

However, a report by German daily Bild says that 62 Marders could be transferred to Ukraine to help it defend against Russia.

The report is based on a secret document the outlet obtained, which says that 32 of the unused 62 vehicles could be repaired for operational use, while 30 could be used only for spare parts.

Bild estimated that returning the vehicles to an operational status could take anywhere between nine to twelve months, but noted that the process could be accelerated with the involvement of the German military industry.

The Marder IFV is a 28-ton vehicle equipped with a 20 mm Rheinmetall autocannon, and a 7.62 mm MG3 machine gun. Marder has been in German service since 1971 and has been repeatedly modernized and adapted to meet current requirements. Newer variants can include the option of carrying a MILAN anti-tank guided missile launcher, but it is unclear whether those variants would be among the vehicles flagged for transfer to Ukraine.

Should the report be confirmed, the Marder IFV could become one of several offensive weapons systems Germany will be sending to Ukraine. The country previously committed to the transfer of PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, as well as the more troublesome Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, for which Germany had trouble sourcing ammunition, following a Swiss export ban.

According to latest statements, the Gepard could be on the front line in Ukraine by July this year, while Ukrainian soldiers are already training on the PzH 2000 howitzers.

Germany is also indirectly supporting the transfer of offensive capability to Ukraine through the so-called “Ringtausch” concept. NATO countries with Soviet-era weapons in their inventories can donate them to Ukraine and in turn receive suitable replacement capability from Germany.

Earlier this week, the Czech Republic confirmed it will be receiving 15 Leopard 2 A4 tanks from Germany after sending some of its own tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine.