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US, Germany agree to send Bradley, Marder IFVs to Ukraine

US Army file photo of a Bradley IFV

Germany and the United States have agreed to send German Marder and US Bradley infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) to Ukraine.

The decision was announced following the phone call between US president Joseph R. Biden and German chancellor Olaf Scholz on January 5.

More specifically, Germany will be delivering an unspecified number of Marder IFVs and will join the US in sending an additional Patriot air defense battery to Ukraine.

“In light of Russia’s ongoing missile and drone attacks against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, president Biden and chancellor Scholz affirmed their intention to further support Ukraine’s urgent requirement for air defense capabilities. In late December, the United States announced its donation of a Patriot air defense missile battery to Ukraine. Germany will join the United States in supplying an additional Patriot air defense battery to Ukraine,” a White House statement read.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been asking for Marder IFVs, as well as German Leopard tanks, ever since the start of the Russian invasion. German officials, however, repeatedly stated that Germany would not make unilateral decisions on the shipment of advanced offensive systems on its own.

The joint US-German announcement follows France’s decision to send AMX-10 RC armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine from just a day ago.

It is unclear how the German decision to supply Marder IFVs to Ukraine would impact its own military’s readiness in light of recent setbacks with the new Puma IFV that is replacing the Marder in German Army service. Reports from December last year said the Marder IFV would have to be used a fallback option for Germany’s lead in the NATO’s very high readiness joint task force (VJTF) this year, after multiple Puma IFVs were left inoperable during a recent live-fire trial.

Back in May last year, German officials, including defense minister Christine Lambrecht, said that all 343 Marders in stocks were essential for the Bundeswehr’s own needs. A report from Bild at the time said some 62 unused vehicles could be donated after all, with 32 repaired for operational use and 30 used only for spare parts.

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.

The Bradley IFV that the US would send to Ukraine is a battle-tested platform which was first fielded in 1981. According to the US Army, the Bradley, armed with a 25mm chain-driven autocannon, a 7.62 mm machine gun, and twin tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided (TOW) missiles, destroyed more armored Iraqi vehicles than did the M1 Abrams main battle tank.