Germany’s Federal Agency for Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) has awarded Rheinmetall two contracts worth 24 million euros to modernise Buffel/Buffalo armoured recovery vehicles and provide buried explosives detection equipment to the Bundeswehr. The two contracts were awarded as a result of experience in Afghanistan.
Rheinmetall announced it will thoroughly modernize four Buffel/Buffalo armoured recovery vehicles to provide their crews with effective protection against ballistic threats, landmines and improvised explosive devices; the latter pose a particularly serious danger to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces in Afghanistan.
The modernization of the BPz 3 Buffel/Buffalo armoured recovery vehicle includes reinforcing the floor of the hull with additional anti-mine protection. The vehicle’s flanks will be fitted with special protection elements to attenuate the blast wave caused by roadside bombs.
The extensive overhaul of the Buffel/Buffalo also involves modernizing the vehicle’s C4I systems and improving its ergonomics.
The Buffel armoured recovery vehicle is based on a Leopard 2 tank chassis, and is used in Afghanistan for recovering and towing tracked vehicles. The heaviest tracked vehicles currently fielded by the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan are the Marder 1A5 infantry fighting vehicle and the PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer.
Rheinmetall’s other order involves the company providing a system for detecting buried mines and booby traps. By the end of this year, Rheinmetall will supply the Bundeswehr with seven systems as part of the German Route Clearing Package (GRCP). A complete system consists of four vehicles, including one for detection and one for clearing explosive devices, as well as a command vehicle and transport vehicle.
In the GRCP, Rheinmetall’s remote control Wiesel (‘weasel’), equipped with ground penetration radar and a metal detector, will take on the task of detecting mines and IEDs concealed on roads and in open terrain.
The Fuchs/Fox 1A8 armoured transport vehicle will serve as the mobile command post, equipped with workstations for operating the remote control systems as well as systems for evaluating signals from the dual sensor.
Ordered separately, the remote control “MiniMinewolf”, already in service with the Swiss Army, will be used for neutralizing hazardous unexploded ordnance. Depending on the mission requirements, the 6-ton vehicle can be equipped with a robot arm, mine plough or bulldozer blade. An integrated video system enables the crew onboard the Fuchs/Fox command vehicle to monitor operations at all times.
Made by Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV), “Multi FSA” logistics vehicles will serve as the GRCP system’s transport vehicles.
Rheinmetall is currently developing a manipulator arm for conducting high-precision bomb disposal operations. With an operating reach of over ten metres and a heavy carrying capacity, it will enable verification and disposal of suspicious objects from a safe standoff.