Armored engineer vehicle (AEV) crews train at WTDWehrtechnische Dienststelle 52

Armored engineer vehicle (AEV) crews train at WTDWehrtechnische Dienststelle 52

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A heavy engine is humming in the distance. A little later, a Dachs AEV dives into the tank wading pit at the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Protective and Special Technologies (WTDWehrtechnische Dienststelle 52) in Oberjettenberg (Bavaria). The humming stops and, against the backdrop of picturesque mountains, the AEV crew start their training.

A tank with a high tube on top and a dozer blade standing in front of a lot of trees

The combat weight of the Dachs AEV is 44 t. The tasks of the armored engineer vehicle include building entry and exit sites at water crossing points or where the banks are steep and muddy.

Bundeswehr, Alexander Bielow

Perfect conditions for training on the Dachs AEV

The Dachs AEV is the workhorse of the armored engineers. Comprehensive crew training on the equipment is a prerequisite for using the tracked vehicle safely.

A short while ago, the Engineer Training Center in Ingolstadt made use of the WTDWehrtechnische Dienststelle 52 tank wading pit to prepare for a military exercise. They trained crossing the Danube as well as recovery measures and work under water with armored engineer vehicles.

Perfect conditions for the military engineers

The wading pit offers a variety of training possibilities for man and machine. The pit represents a section of the Elbe Lateral Canal at a scale of 1:1 and has paved routes of entry and exit, which is ideal to practice correct entry into a body of water.

The pit floor is partially paved so that the tank has a safe driving and standing area under water at a defined depth. Another section of the pit is covered in gravel. This is where the crews, also under water, train how to use the dozer blade and the excavator arm.

The tank has a combat weight of 44 t. Thus, every command and every action has to be correct. Not only do the tank crews train how to enter a body of water safely but they also train all the other activities under the watchful eyes of the instructors. Time and again they repeat certain actions until everything has sunk in.

A tank with a large tube attached to its top. A soldier is standing inside the tube.

The crew has to carry out radio checks before the training starts. Things only get started if everyone can communicate with one another.

Bundeswehr, Alexander Bielow
A tank enters a concrete pit filled with water. There are more cars in the background.

Sergeant Martin Dahten issues commands to slowly let the armored engineer vehicle enter the pit. From his raised position, he has the perfect view of everything that is happening.

Bundeswehr, Alexander Bielow

Practice makes perfect

No matter if they are under or above water, communication and close cooperation of the crew are sometimes essential for survival. The crews of several tanks support each other during training. During an actual mission, in particular in a natural body of water with all its imponderabilities, the crew members must be able to rely on each other.

When water suddenly floods the crew compartment...

A tube and an excavator arm with gravel in the bucket are sticking out of a water basin. A soldier is standing in the tube.

The WTDWehrtechnische Dienststelle 52 tank wading pit represents a section of the Elbe Lateral Canal at a scale of 1:1. A perfect training site for the military engineers and the Dachs AEV.

Bundeswehr, Alexander Bielow

Under water, the crews are under considerable mental stress. For the drivers, in particular, there is no visibility and orientation. They have to blindly rely on the tank commanders’ orders and steer the tank according to their instructions.

These routines, colloquially called drill, save lives in case of an emergency. For most of the crew sit packed together like sardines just like in a submarine, several meters under water. Only the commanders stand raised above the water’s surface.

In case of sudden water ingress, the routines to exit a flooded tank, which have been trained in advance, must have sunk in. Nobody must lose their nerves, even if, literally, every second counts. During training, however, the tank remains watertight. Not a single drop enters the crew compartment. When exiting the body of water, the stress level goes down considerably.

The routines are practiced time and again to make sure that the servicemen and -women will exactly know how to work inside and on the tank also in the future. These routines are an ideal preparation for the following mission: crossing the Danube in the subsequent exercise.

Things calm down again at the end of the training week. The picturesque surroundings and the mountains are reflected in the water of the tank wading pit until another Dachs AEV enters the pit.

by Dennis König

Military engineers train on the Dachs AEV in the tank wading pit at WTDWehrtechnische Dienststelle 52

Basic training for the military engineers at the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Protective and Special Technologies (WTDWehrtechnische Dienststelle 52). In Oberjettenberg, the military engineers learn how to handle the Dachs armored engineer vehicle under water. The workhorse of the engineer corps can move up to four meters below the water surface.

Agencies AINAusrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung

WTDWehrtechnische Dienststelle 52 in Oberjettenberg

WTDWehrtechnische Dienststelle 52 is responsible for matters related to direct and indirect protection and special technologies.