Canadian American Strategic Review


DND 101

2 A6M

Leopard 2



Canadian Forces  Armour  —  Armoured Recovery Vehicle 3 (Büffel)

Update: April 2011 – a Leopard 2 ARV conversion NPP has been issued for 8 ARVs with options for 4 more conversions – adding 2 more options to the total previously covered by  Tank Replacement Project (TRP) and  Force Mobility Enhancement (FME) projects combined.

ARV 3  (Armoured Recovery Vehicle) Büffel
The CF's standard  heavy  armoured recovery vehicle is the Taurus  based on the Leopard 1 hull. With the introduction of an even heavier Leopard 2  tank, a newer, more powerful ARV was also required. Just as MaK had based the Taurus on the Leopard 1 chassis, Rheinmetall evolved its Bergepanzer 3  from  the Leopard 2. The crew is housed in a armoured casement to port. To starboard  is a 270° traverse crane. The rear engine deck  (right) also holds tools and a spare powerplant cradle to facilitate in-field engine changes for the Leopard 2A6M.

ARV 3,  BüffelBergepanzer 3, or What You Will – A Strong Arm to Aid the Leopard 2s
The CF refers to Büffels as ARV 3s – the name 'Buffalo' having been applied to Bison MRVs. Two ARV 3s deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 with the Leopard 2s.  These Büffels were from Bundeswehr stocks  [1]  but upgraded  for the Afghan mission. Rheinmetall applied IED add- on armour to the hull sides and bottom (as per the Leopard 2 A6M), partial slat armour 'cage' and dozer blade extensions to cover the 'cage' width. That wider blade is seen in Afghanistan but the slat armour  (which must make crane use very awkward)  is usually not mounted.

  Rheinmetall Landsysteme [2] ARV 3  Büffel Specifications
  Crew:   3  (driver, vehicle commander, assistant)
  Armament:   1 x 7.62mm MG3, 16 70mm grenade launchers
  Size:   L x 9.07m (hull), W x 3.54m, H x 2.7m (overall)
 Weight:   54,000 kg  (combat, less add-on/bar armour)
  47.6L  1500 hp  V-12 multi-fuel  MTU MB 873
  Ka 501 turbo-diesel,  Renk  HSWL 354  trans.
  Speed/range   68 km/h / 650 km (road) & 325 km (off-road)
  Capabilities:   Tow 62,000 kg, winch pull 35-t [3], hoist 30-t

For unsticking tanks, ARV 3s have Rotzler main winches with 180m of  33mm cable. The main winch can pull up to 35 tonnes – double that weight if a pulley tackle is used. There is also an auxiliary winch with 280m of  7mm cable. When winching heavier vehicles, lowering the bulldozer blade adds to the ARV 3's stability and  holding  power. The mounting point  for the crane  is directly  beside the crew casement – limiting traverse but giving an excellent view from the hatches. This hydraulic crane's jib has an electronic momentum limiter [4] and can hoist 30 tonnes. Using its crane, an ARV 3 can change Leopard 2 A6M powerpacks in about 35 minutes. It can also exchange 2 A6M turrets in the field.

[1] There appears to have been no public notice that the two ARV 3s have been purchased as Urgent Operational Requirements. With the upgrades needed, a UOR purchase makes sense but, in contrast with past practice on the Afghan mission, the ARV 3 buy was kept quiet. Our thanks to Sgt Patrick Vigneault for providing clarification of the exact nature of the procurement of the Canadian Forces' two ARV 3s.
[2] MaK Systemgesellschaft mbH was the main contractor for the Bpz 3 but Krauss-Maffei Wegmann also built the Büffel. MaK had been part of  the Krupp Group until 1991 when the MaK vehicle division was bought  by  Rheinmetall AG, becoming  Rheinmetall Landsysteme.
[3] The Rotzler Treibmatic TR 650/3  winch has a single pull rating of 35 tonnes, a double-pull rating  – with a snatch block – of  70 tonnes.
[4] This electronic load momentum limiter  computes  jib elevation, vehicle tilt, load mass, etc., to prevent the crane from being overloaded.