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Making what's old, new again

PARIS -- It's not too often a major defense company will feature three legacy vehicles, all over 30 years old, at a major trade show like Eurosatory. But like their counterparts in the U.S., European companies such as Rheinmetall Defence must cater to drastically shrinking defense budgets across the globe.

Rheinmetall Defense is displaying upgraded versions of the Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank and the Marder infantry fighting vehicle in hopes of finding some budget shoppers in Europe or Middle Eastern armies looking to make a leap in capabilities for their mechanized forces.

The U.S. Army is doing much of the same. Many defense analysts suspect the Army will have to upgrade their Bradley fleet rather than make the investment needed to develop the Ground Combat Vehicle.

Rheinmetall Defense displayed the Main Battle Tank Revolution on its Leopard 2 featuring the Rapid Obsurring System, better known as ROSY. The systems protects the tank from TV-, EO-, IR-, LASER- and SACLOS-guided weapons with a dynamic smoke screen and multispectral interruption that deploys in 0.6 seconds.

The MBT Revolution also features a new commander's periscope with elevation angles up to 70 degrees as well as upgraded fire control technology with improved first hit probability. The German based company also built a digital turret core system into the tank with fully integrated network capabilities.

Rheinmetall lifted the top deck of the Marder Armored Personnel Carrier and improved the ballistic protection as well as the mine protect. Engineers reworked the Marder to develop the 43 ton mobile gun system displayed here at Eurosatory. The defense company mounted a rifled 105mm Oto-Melara gun to its turret.

Oliver Hoffmann, a spokesman for Rheinmetall Defence, said the company has received interest in the upgraded Marder from South American countries such as Chile and Brazil as well as Europe and the Middle East.

"We're trying to meet the needs of armies around the world and the realities with budgets," Hoffmann said. "This is the first time we've displayed these vehicles at a show like this."

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