Land Panther: Germany’s Tracked Puma IFV
Heat and cold trials done, formal delivery coming next; More changes will be needed after acceptance; Article reformatted; Additional Readings sections updated.
June 12/14: Heat Trials. Rheinmetall announces that its Puma has successfully completed firing and mobility trials in the UAE, in temperatures that ranged between 35-50C in the shade. The MK30-2/ABM automatic 30mm cannon and the MG4 7.62 machine gun both performed well in stationary and moving firing trials, the air conditioning system held up well and efficiently, and mobility trials went well in sand dunes, steep loose-surface tracks, and a rocky desert streambed.
With the completion of cold and hot-weather trials, the IFV is about ready for acceptance. Sources: Rheinmetall, “Puma stands up to heat and sand”.
Sept 17/13: Testing. German media report that testing at Germany’s Wehrteknik Dienstelle (WTD) testing center in Triel has revealed a number of design problems hampering the Puma IFV. Meanwhile, the program’s total estimated cost has risen to EUR 4.3 billion, which is a 39%/ EUR 1.2 billion jump beyond initial program figures.
Changes to the chassis have reportedly been required, with the number of wheel pairs raised from 5 to 6, and engine improvements have been necessary. Weight is reportedly an issue. Electronics are cited as inadequate to achieve the desired performance standards, and even weapon accuracy is questioned.
Meanwhile, German troops must continue using the Marder, which has limitations when fighting at night, and in counter-insurgency missions like Afghanistan where precise target identification is required. Sources: Volksfreund, “Ein Puma mit vielen Problemen” and “Bundeswehr-Panzer Puma wird 1,2 Milliarden Euro teurer”.
June 25/13: Upgrades. Germany will spend another EUR 500 million to develop the Puma after it finishes current trials, with most of these funds spent after 2017. Enhancements will reportedly include electronics upgrades, a remotely-operated machine gun station up top, and provision for anti-tank missiles.
The weapons upgrade will bring Puma to par with new unmanned IFV turrets, and with tracked IFV competitors like American Bradley and Russian BMP. Even the Marder IFVs Puma will replace can carry MBDA’s Milan anti-tank missiles. Sources: RP Online, “Schützenpanzer Puma soll aufgerüstet werden”.
Germany has always been known for producing excellent armored vehicles. A combination of features that arguably make it the world’s best tank, and fire sale prices stemming from Germany’s rapid disarmament, have made the Leopard 2 the standard main battle tank in Europe and beyond. The same level of innovation and execution was shown in the late 1960s, when Germany’s Marder became the west’s first Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). Designs like the American M2/M3 Bradley, Sweden’s CV90 family and new SEP, Singapore’s Bionix-II, and Korea’s new XK-21 have stepped far beyond that legacy, however, and even the Russian region has continued to update their BMP designs. Meanwhile, the nature of military operations has changed to emphasize modularity, out of country missions, advanced electronic communications, and strong protection against threats like land mines.
The Marders need to be replaced, and this became a priority even within Germany’s limited defense budget. In response, German armored vehicle leaders Rheinmetall & KMW formed a 50/50 joint venture to design and produce a solution that would address these issues, and return Germany to a leadership position in the tracked IFV field. Enter the new Puma IFV – which has just received a EUR 3 billion production order from Germany.
Puma IFV: Platform & Features
Puma IFV: Project and Industrial Organization
Puma IFV: Contracts & Key Events
2013 – 2014
2010 – 2012
2004 – 2009
Additional Readings & Sources
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