The exchange program of the German Marder 1A3 Armored Fighting Vehicles with the Soviet-made TOMA BMP-1 of the Land Army seems to have rekindled the Greek interest in acquiring a large number of German tracked vehicles from the Motorized Infantry (Panzergrenadiere) Units of the “Bundeswehr”.
Thus, the possibility of a request to acquire from the Germans the largest possible number of second-hand Marders which are in the warehouses is now being seriously considered. In addition to the 100 armored vehicles that the manufacturer Rheinmetall has, at least 400 more of the German Army are in the “crosshairs” of the Greek Staff.
And regardless of a possible agreement to purchase new TOMA Lynx and upgrade the Leopard tanks, the intention to acquire additional Marders seems to be a given. After all, both for reasons of maintenance, support and training, it is considered necessary to acquire a significant number of Marder beyond the one that will result after the exchange with the BMP-1.
The Marder’s ability to survive on the battlefield as well as inflict critical blows on enemy forces is the key element that makes them attractive to the Army even though their construction began in the early 1970s. It is the heaviest armored TOMA in its class and only the latest generation TOMAs have better features. While the latest generation thermal periscope with which all Marders are equipped make it particularly effective in night operations.
Seventeen years ago, in 2005, the issue of buying German Marders had again come to the fore. At the time, Berlin had expressed its intention to sell at least 400 TOMAs to Greece, but after discussions that lasted three years, the Ministry of National Defense reached a negative decision.
The Army has remained virtually without TOMAs despite the fact that the General Staff has repeatedly requested its reinforcement in order to begin replacing the aging M-113s which are not Combat Vehicles but APCs (Armored Personnel Carriers). The ten-year economic crisis intervened during which such an issue could not even be stirred at a time when the Armed Forces were even facing fuel supply problems while key weapon systems remained without maintenance.
And while the issue of the Land Army acquiring an Armored Fighting Vehicle was reopened, the war in Ukraine and the German request to exchange BMP-1s for Marder 1A3s brought new facts. The Hellenic Armed Forces have already received the first of a total of 40 German tracked vehicles which had an imposing presence in the military parade of October 28 in Thessaloniki. Already the first impressions of the Executives of the GES from Germany when they saw and went through the “microscope” of the Marder were more than positive. An image that was confirmed with the arrival of the first TOMAs in Greece. Apart from the exceptional situation in which the German Armored Forces find themselves, the capabilities they possess, as assessed by the competent Executives, match perfectly with the needs of the Motorized, but especially the Armored Formations. Since until today mighty tanks like the Leopard 2 Hel and Leopard 2A4 are supported by the reliable but obsolete M-113.
While as it is characteristically emphasized despite what is said – mainly not by experts on the subject – in no way can they be compared to the Russian BMP-1. “If the BMP-1 could support tanks like the Leopard and even the earlier Leopard 1A5 or Leopard 1V they would have been in Thrace and in the formations of the 4th Army Corps for many years” typical military sources with full knowledge of the needs that have the specific Units. The choice to allocate the 500 BMP-1 to Units on the islands and also in Central Macedonia was made purely on operational criteria and this decision was never questioned within the Staff.