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Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The 43-ton Puma is thought to be one of the world's best-protected IFVs, while still having a high power-to-weight ratio. It comes as a replacement to the Bundeswehrs ageing Marder which has been in use with the military for over four decades. The Puma project was also plagued by significant delays. The Bundeswehr must have received the first batch of vehicles back in 2015, but KMW and Rheinmetall shifted the delivery to 2020 citing production difficulties.

The development of the new infantry fighting vehicle is marked by technological extremes. It will not only be the new transport platform for the German Army but also a cutting-edge technology system. With its unique balance of tactical and strategic mobility, survivability and lethality, the PUMA gives the German Armed Forces a state-of-the-art infantry fighting vehicle systematically tailored to the current and future operational requirements of the German military both at home and abroad.

The development achievement was guided by the demand to induce latest mission experience from current operations and to consequently deliver effective mission performance. To that extent this has not been realized in any other infantry fighting vehicle. The PUMA is scheduled to undergo an intense round of testing and verification. This includes extreme summer and winter trials abroad. The complex preparations are deemed to ensure the smooth introduction of the system to the German Army.

PUMA sets the new standard maximum protection for the crew, fire power, mobility and networked operations. No comparable vehicle provides its crew with such a high level of protection from typical conflict zone threats such as landmines, rocket propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices. Well-protected yet light enough to airlift, the PUMA's modularity and expandability make it well suited for international conflict management. The PUMA, whose main armament and ammunition had to be modified to match the altered threat spectrum, represents both lethality and survivability. More than thirty years after Germany first fielded the MARDER, the PUMA is poised to significantly expand the Bundeswehr's capabilities spectrum, providing it with an entirely new category of tactical vehicle. In any international comparison, the PUMA clearly represents the cutting edge in contemporary armored vehicle technology.

The Puma had a baseline weight of 31.45 tons, allowing it to be lifted by an Airbus A400M transport. When fitted with its armor package, the vehicle weighs up to 43 tons. The vehicle is also equipped with a remote-controlled turret (RCT) armed with a 30 mm Mauser MK 30-2 cannon, and a 5.56 mm MG4 co-axial machine gun. These weapons are operated by a computerized day/night fire control system that enables the vehicle to target both stationary and moving targets.

The Puma armored infantry fighting vehicle is the most advanced system of its kind in the world. Besides excellent modular protection, the Puma possesses a unique capacity for scalable lethality and the ability to take part in sophisticated network-enabled operations. This innovative IFV offers space for a nine-man crew and can be airlifted into remote areas of operation in the A400M military transport plane, meeting the requirement for maximum tactical and strategic mobility.

A state-of-the-art tracked infantry fighting vehicle equal or superior to the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Puma is still too large to be transported by air, even in an A400M, and funding for its development and production competes with the lighter, more transportable Boxer/MRAV wheeled armored personnel carrier, a vehicle much better suited to the types of expeditionary scenarios outlined in the White Paper.

The PUMAs outstanding protection is achieved through the interaction of different elements. The PUMAs inherent protection affords its crew what is currently the worlds best combined protection against mines, shaped charges and KE ammunition as well as NBC weapons. To support this capability, it features protection technologies of the latest generation. A low silhouette, smooth surfaces as well as further technical measures reduce the probability of detection.

Excellent optical and optronic vision equipment and sensors of the latest generation, combined with the control and display concept and the communication devices, ensure that the entire crew is integrated in the observation and reconnaissance activities. Threats will be identified early and adequate countermeasures can be initiated immediately. Redundant functionalities and fall-back modes maintain the best possible operational availability, even in the event of failure of individual components.

The PUMA features a new two-level protection concept. The PUMA is Air-transportable in level A including full mine protection and ballistic protection on a high level. For air transport by the military Airbus A400M, weight reduction is achieved by simply removing the armour modules. With add-on armour elements easy to mount, it is possible to upgrade to the significantly more comprehensive level C (Combat). The ballistic armour is designed to provide protection against hand-held anti-tank weapons, medium calibre weapons, artillery fragments and bomblets. The mine protection is highly effective against heavy blast mines and explosiv formed projectile (EFP) mines.

Interfaces for active protection systems are already incorporated in the vehicle. Customized solutions of hardkill and softkill protection systems can be integrated without problems. For German Army the MUltifunctional Self protection System MUSS (a softkill protection system against guided missiles) is integrated into all PUMA. The vehicles modular concept enables the integration of future protection technologies against future threats.

The powerpack compartment is fitted with a fire extinguishing system. The crew compartment is equipped with a fire suppression system. The Puma features an NBC combined protection system with the additional integration of an AC sensor. Components vital for crew survival were subjected to the hardening measures of balanced nuclear protection. The vehicle signature has been minimized in accordance with the latest design standards.

Maximum fire power is a prerequisite for successful engagement in high-intensity conflicts and for adequate reactions in other missions with the option of escalation and de-escalation. The Puma achieves this fire power through the interaction of different innovative elements. A variety of state of the art optical and optronic vision devices enables the whole crew 360 all-around surveillance, recognition and identification of targets on long distances. The hunter-killer functionality, as available in the Leopard 2 main battle tank, allows the rapid engagement of several targets within a very short time.

The main armament is the fully stabilized, automatic 30 mm MK30-2 ABM fitted to the remote-controlled turret. This weapon designed for target engagement on great distances also on the move. A total of 200 rounds of two types of ammunition are available ready to use. Further 200 rounds are stowed in the chassis. In addition to existing 30 mm full-calibre and sub-calibre fin-stabilized ammunition, it is also possible to fire the newly developed air burst ammunition with time fuzes. The envisioned 30 mm APFSDS-T is a sub-calibre fin-stabilized ammunition with high penetration capability. It is mainly used against vehicles of medium armour protection. The envisioned 30 mm KETF is a full-calibre multi-purpose ammunition. Depending on the type of target, its time fuze is set for a defined time of flight. Depending on the fuze setting, sub-projectiles will be ejected. Due to the cone of fragments an optimum effect against the specific types of targets will be achieved.

PUMA receives an additional weapon system with the integration of the Anti Armour/Multi-Purpose Missile System SPIKE, provided by EuroSpike. The integration of SPIKE boosts the PUMAs lethality significantly. Due to the existing interfaces a grenade launcher can be mounted optionally.

The chassis incorporates a key PUMA concept approach, the compact, full-length crew compartment for the entire crew, i.e. driver, gunner and commander as well as the infantry squad consisting of six soldiers. This concept minimizes the volume to be protected, thus the crew protection can be maximized within the existing weight constraint. The contiguous crew compartment is easy to air-condition and offers excellent conditions for optimum, ergonomic crew station design and crew intercommunication. The entire control and display concept reflects the most advanced technologies. The crew stations for commander and gunner are redundant.

The propulsion concept for maximum tactical mobility is comparable to a Leopard 2 main battle tank, while at the same time reducing noise and vibration levels for a noticeable reduction in crew stress is achieved through the combination of various innovative solutions. A powerful compact powerpack delivering 800 kW guarantees maximum performance with minimum structural volume and weight. A wheel decoupled running gear significantly reduces noise levels and vibrations. The use of hydropneumatic elements with hydraulic bump stops at each roadwheel station guarantee maximum mobility with minimum installation volume.

Various optical and optronic devices provide the entire crew with an excellent 360 all-around surveillance, recognition and identification of targets by day and night and all weather conditions. Targets identified through vision blocks can immediately be displayed to the commander for further identification by operating the target allocator. The primary panoramic sight of the commander is the independently stabilized n x 360 rotatable periscope with an optical daysight channel, which can be displayed on all monitors inside the vehicle by means of a CCD camera. The gunners sight with an optronic daysight channel is also independently stabilized. Both sights with several fields of view are equipped with identical thermal image sights and laser range finders. Targets detected and identified by the commander using the periscope can be designated to the gunner for engagement. Immediately after target designation, the commander is ready to observe and identify new targets (hunter-killer function).

Sddeutsche Zeitung reported 18 August 2016 that the vehicles top hatch namely, the "two-man hatch in the rear troop compartment" cannot be hermetically sealed, so in case of a heavy rainfall water can literally penetrate the IFVs defenses. Rheinmetall AG, which handles the manufacturing of Puma together with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, declared that "under real conditions of use it has been discovered that the roof hatch of the Puma infantry fighting vehicle requires improvement." The company had to develop a new insulation device and started installing it on the defective vehicles begining this spring, claiming that the problem has been isolated and solved. However, it remains unclear exactly how this defect avoided detection during factory trials. It should be noted that this defect was in fact discovered by the German Defense Ministry back during the second quarter of 2015, and a "singular case" of a non-hermetically sealed Pumas hatch occurred in 2013.

Germanys cutting-edge Puma vehicle might have trouble doing what it was designed for carrying and protecting troops in the battlefield. Its troop compartment came to be too low for tall soldiers. The Bundeswehr is expected to take delivery of 350 Pumas a state-of-the-art infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) jointly built by Kraus Maffei-Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall corporations. But the newest weapons system sometimes referred to as a light tank because of its size and weight does not come without embarrassing setbacks. Tall soldiers should not expect comfy seats in Pumas crammed troop compartment. Its ceiling is so low that it can only seat six infantrymen not taller than 1.84meters.

Marders crew compartment is noticeably more spacious than that of Puma as it allows carrying soldiers who are 1.96m tall. Therefore, transitioning to the newer vehicle might not go as smooth as expected. Die Welt suggested that German military planners failed to predict the rising height of future soldiers while using medical stats over 15 years ago, when the Puma was undergoing initial design phase. At the time, Puma developers purportedly decided to sacrifice inner space to better protection that included installing special anti-blast seats which made the compartment even narrower. Defense sources told Die Welt the incorrect size standards prompted the army to revise the list of equipment borne by Puma crews as well as to alter hiring standards.

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Page last modified: 28-09-2018 11:11:43 ZULU