A package worth 115 million euros: this is the total value of the order won by Rheinmetall to supply expanded capabilities and additional equipment for the Puma infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). It's just part of a larger “expansion package” with a gross value of €260 million - plus an optional retrofitting, for which €108 million has been allocated – awarded to the project management company by the Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw).
A new turret secondary weapon system
The expansion package for the Puma includes, among other things, the development of a new turret-independent secondary weapon system (TSWA) for the Puma, the installation of advanced visualization and display technology, and the provision of new training resources. The goal is to further enhance the infantry fighting vehicle’s combat performance in a number of areas as well as providing improved possibilities for training.
The turret-independent secondary weapon system (TSWA) is remotely controlled from the vehicle’s rear fighting compartment and fires 40mm lethal and non-lethal (e.g. tear gas and flash-bang) ammunition with a maximum range of 400 metres. The new order includes sample integration, readying the system for full-scale production and fabrication of three TSWA prototypes. The actual serial production order, in which the entire Puma fleet will be retrofitted with the weapon system, is expected to come in 2023.
The Puma’s will also be upgraded with a state-of-the-art, high-performance color displays that will provide the vehicle commander and gunner with a high-resolution view of the surrounding terrain and the current tactical situation. The driver’s night vision capability will be enhanced by a new infrared searchlight mounted on the rear of the vehicle.
Puma: The most protected Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) of the world
The Puma infantry fighting vehicle was jointly developed in the early 2000s by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall to replace the ageing Marder 1 IFVs, whose complete replacement with 350 Pumas is scheduled for completion by 2020.
Equipped with a 30 mm MK30-2/ABM autocannon as main armament and a 5.56mm machine gun, the Puma is the most advanced system of its kind worldwide. More akin to a light tank in terms of protection (and costs) it is the most protected IFV currently available thanks to its welded armor hull and add-on modular armor. Accordingly to protection level, the weight of the vehicle vary from 29.4 to 43 tons. In this last configuration, designed to withstand 125mm projectiles over the front arc, it is even heavier than the T-72 main battle tank.
It can carry nine troops plus the three crewmen and can be airlifted to the area of operations in an A400M military transport plane.