The Dutch Armed Forces have awarded Rheinmetall an order for the second phase of the modernization of their fleet of Bergepanzer 3 Büffel (Buffalo) armoured recovery vehicles (ARVs).
According to the contract, a further 21 vehicles will be upgraded to the latest technological and tactical standard following a first order awarded in April 2019, for the modernization of four Bergepanzer 3 Büffel/Buffalo ARVs.
The upgrade will extend the service life of these combat support vehicles, developed by Rheinmetall on the basis of the Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank (MBT) chassis, through to the year 2040.
Modernization work will take place at Rheinmetall locations in Kassel, Germany as well as in Ede in the Netherlands. It will include a complete overhaul of the individual armoured recovery vehicles and a new digital operating concept; the installation of advanced visualization technology; mission packages featuring ballistic and mine protection; and new battlefield recovery equipment together as well as a universal transport platform. Also included in the contract are technical documentation, training and other services.
This service life extension will give the Dutch armed forces a reconfigured state-of-the-art ARV with significant growth potential. New force protection features both on and in the vehicle will keep the crew extremely safe from modern battlefield threats. Cutting-edge visualization systems, digital operating elements and command systems will support the crew while carrying out their tasks. Furthermore, new battlefield recovery equipment will boost the vehicle’s tactical effectiveness. It will be transferred to the rear section of the vehicle. This will let the crew hook up to a damaged Royal Dutch Army vehicle such as the Bushmaster, Boxer, CV90 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer (SPH), Leguan bridge-laying tank, Kodiak combat engineering vehicle or the Leopard 2 main battle tank without having to leave the safety of the fighting compartment, before towing it from the battlefield at high speed in forward gear.
In addition, the modified version of the Bergepanzer 3 Büffel ARV will feature a flexible-use universal transport platform mounted on the rear section of the vehicle. To cite just one example, this can be used for carrying equipment for recovering other vehicles. The new equipment has already demonstrated its effectiveness during deployed operations.
The Dutch Armed Forces will take delivery of the first upgraded vehicles at the beginning of 2021.
In December 2018, the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) contracted with Rheinmetall to modernize its fleet of Bergepanzer 3 vehicles, ensuring they remain a match for current and future operational scenarios. Similar mission configurations are in service with the armed forces of NATO member Canada as well as Sweden.