Swiss Converting 160 More Piranha Panzerjaegers
More than 300 Piranha-I 6×6 Panzerjagers (tank hunters) armed with TOW missiles have been in service with the Swiss Army since the beginning of the 1990s. If the design looks familiar, it’s because MOWAG’s Piranha family of vehicles is produced in North America by parent firm General Dynamics Land Systems as the 8×8 LAV-II (USMC) or Stryker/LAV-III. MOWAG GmbH was already conducting a Panzerjaeger re-role program announced in January 2006, turning 40 into protected ambulance vehicles. Deliveries began at the end of 2006. Now the Swiss Ministry of Defence is moving ahead with a second program, another 160 of these vehicles will be converted to protected command vehicles ready for integration with the Swiss Army’s future Communication and Battle Management System (FIS HE). Deliveries will take place between 2008-2010.
Readers have looked at the photo we included below for the re-roled vehicles, and wondered at the absence of a raised roof and other features that normally distinguish command variants. DID has talked to MOWAG, and has some answers…
This second Swiss re-role program is for company and battalion level command and control (C2) vehicles. The re-role adjustments include the integration of information and communication systems, with 4 seats and computing workstations installed in back. The vehicles will be ready for the future Swiss battlefield C3I(Command, Control, Communications & Intelligence) system FIS HE (Fuhrungsinformationssystem der Stufe Heer), and will have some components installed.
The Swiss elected not to raise the roof as they did on their Piranha IIIC 8×8 Brigade C2 vehicles, however, in order to keep the vehicle’s weight within bounds and maintain its profile.
Day and night vision sensors will be updated to give the converted Panzerjaegers, making them suitable for observation, overwatch, and reconnaissance missions, and a remote controlled Kongsberg Protector weapon station will provide self protection firepower that can be operated from within a closed vehicle. The Swiss have ordered NOK 246 million (currently about $38.3 million) worth of Kongsberg’s Protector remote-controlled weapon stations, which also include advanced day and night time electro-optical sights. If it looks familiar to many readers, perhaps this is because the Protector system is used on 7 countries’ vehicles, including the US Stryker (LAV-III). See Kongsberg release.
The prototype for the new command vehicle was developed by General Dynamics Land Systems subsidiary MOWAG GmbH in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland in close partnership with Swiss defense procurement agency Armasuisse. MOWAG’s release adds that the PIRANHA I 6×6 vehicles’ excellent condition means they can be used for another 25 years following the conversion.