Bundeswehr lends a helping hand in Germany’s flood recovery effort
Combat engineer vehicles made by Rheinmetall take on a vital disaster relief role
In mid-July 2021 torrential rains caused devastating floods in the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. Within minutes, swiftly rising rivers overwhelmed entire communities, roads and infrastructure, sweeping whole houses away. More than 170 people lost their lives. Numerous government agencies – including the Bundeswehr – are now taking part in search, rescue and recovery operations as well as clearing away debris left in the disaster’s wake. Pitching in, the German military has deployed heavy equipment made by Rheinmetall.
Around 1,600 Bundeswehr personnel deployed
The Bundeswehr has been taking part in the relief effort since 14 July 2021, helping to address the needs of people in flood-stricken areas and ruined towns and removing the remains of destroyed buildings, etc. Currently, some 1,600 German military personnel are involved in the operation, under the command of Lieutenant General Martin Schelleis of the Bundeswehr’s Joint Service Support Command. In his capacity as “National Territorial Commander”, he oversees all Bundeswehr personnel deployed in the flood disaster zones.
The German armed forces are now helping some twenty communities and towns cope with the impact of this natural disaster. Activities here include clearing roads, transporting the sick and injured and searching for missing persons.
As of 22 July 2021, the forces deployed had at their disposal a wide array of heavy equipment. These include some 260 conventional vehicles, five armoured recovery vehicles, two Dachs/Badger armoured engineer vehicles, 19 Fuchs/Fox armoured transport vehicles, a bridge-laying tank, eight field ambulances, ten helicopters, eight tankers, eight Dingo loudspeaker vehicles, a SATCOM system, a folding road-laying system, a rapidly deployable ribbon bridge, two field kitchens, eight firefighting vehicles as well as folding bridges and water purification systems.
Combat engineer vehicles to the rescue
The Bergepanzer 2 armoured recovery vehicle (ARV), the Bergepanzer 3 Büffel/Buffalo ARV, the Pionierpanzer 2 Dachs/Badger armoured combat engineer vehicle and the Fuchs/Fox armoured transport vehicle are all made by Rheinmetall.
Still based on the Leopard 1 chassis, the Bergepanzer 2 and the Dachs/Badger both boast an engine output of 830 hp. Based on the Leopard 2 chassis, the Büffel/Buffalo is equipped with 1,500 hp powerpack. All of them are designed for maximum mobility in rough terrain and feature a deep fording capability – a critical advantage in flooded areas. Among other things, these tracked armoured vehicles are equipped with a crane (the Bergepanzer 2 and 3) or excavator (Dachs/Badger), a bulldozer blade as well as cable winches. These combat engineer vehicles are thus also well suited for a multitude of clearing and recovery operations in a disaster relief context.
The Fuchs/Fox 1 armoured transport vehicle – or TPz for short – has formed part of the Bundeswehr inventory ever since 1979, with over 900 vehicles in many different variants delivered to date. Robust and reliable, this battle-tested vehicle has proved its mettle in numerous deployed operations, including in Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Mali. Thanks to an engine output of around 320 hp and torque of 1,200 Nm, the 6x6 all-wheel-drive Fuchs/Fox can safely transport up to ten people and a payload of roughly three tons. Moreover, the TPz is fully off-road capable and can operate at water depths of up to 1.50 metres without prior preparation. Some members of the Fuchs/Fox family – e.g., the combat engineer reconnaissance variant – are even able to swim, making them suitable for amphibious operations. Thanks to its ability to reconnoitre difficult terrain and carry supplies, for instance, the Fuchs/Fox is thus particularly useful during flood relief missions, when it can also tow and recover heavy civilian vehicles.
Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles HX in action
Among the other 260 vehicles deployed by the Bundeswehr in the flooded districts are several Unprotected Transport Vehicles, or UTFs. The German armed forces began introducing this new generation of logistic vehicles in 2018. The truck belongs to the HX series made by Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles. Uncompromisingly engineered for maximum durability and mobility, the family of military-off-the-shelf vehicles procured by the Bundeswehr can carry a payload of either five or fifteen tonnes in difficult terrain. They are capable of wading up to a water depth of 1.50 metres without preparation.
Help for as long as necessary
The Bundeswehr has already made it clear that it will stay on to help people in the disaster-stricken areas for as long as necessary. In doing so, the troops deployed on the ground know they can rely on their tried-and-tested heavy equipment.