The Puma is an Infantry Fighting vehicle developed in Germany to replace the aging fleet of German Marder IFVs. The vehicle is considered to be one of the most well protected and heavily armored IFVs in the world. The Puma also offers substantial firepower, mounting a 30 mm autocannon in an unmanned turret. The Puma is currently in production through a joint venture by the German military companies, Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann at a unit cost of $7 million each. The first production Pumas were delivered to the German army in early 2015 and the total order for 350 vehicles are scheduled to be delivered in full by 2020.
The baseline Puma curbside weight is 69,000 pounds (31.5 tonnes), with the fully loaded combat weight increasing to 94,500 pounds (43 tonnes). The vehicle is approximately 24 feet (7.6 m) in length, 12 feet (3.9 m) wide with baseline armor and 11.5 feet (3.6 m) in height to the top of the turret. Operated by a crew of 3, the driver, commander and gunner are all positioned in the chassis, with the turret being unmanned. The vehicle can also accommodate a compliment of 6 dismounts. With the chassis mounted on a hydropneumatic suspension system and powered by a 1100 hp MTU V10 892 diesel engine the vehicle has a power to weight ratio of 23.3 hp/ton at its full combat ready weight. The Puma can attain a maximum road speed of 42 mph (70 km/hr) and possesses a 360 miles (600 km) operational range with on-board fuel.
The Puma design is optimized for modularity, permitting the baseline vehicle to be reconfigured to meet a broad range of mission requirements. In this regard it is similar to the German-Dutch designed Boxer. The main intended combat roles are as an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), as a fire support vehicle (IFV) and as an air defense platform. To permit mission role modifications the vehicle was configured with a high weight reserve to accommodate the necessary associated mission equipment. The vehicle front, floor and sidewalls remain unchanged during configuration change while the rear cabin area can be replaced with alternate mission modules.
The main weapon of the Puma is a 30 mm MK30-2/ABM autocannon, which is mounted in an unmanned turret. The ABM suffix indicates Air Burst Munitions, which the cannon is able to fire to engage low flying and slow moving air targets, such as helicopters. The autocannon can fire at a rate of 200 rounds per minute, and has an effective target engagement range of over 3000 yards.
The illustration above shows the details of the unmanned turreted system.
The German government expressed a preference for the 30 x 173 mm caliber autocannon over the 25 mm Bushmaster (as mounted on the M2 Bradley and LAV III vehicles) as the 30 mm rounds offered substantially improved armor penetration as compared to the 25 mm ammunition autocannon. While a heavier weapon than the 25 mm, the 30 mm autocannon is substantial lighter when compared to the alternative of the much heavier Bofors 40 mm gun, as mounted on the Swedish CV9040. Like the 25 mm autocannon the 30 mm cannon is also belt-fed, while the Bofors 40 mm utilizes 24 round magazines. The 30 mm rounds however are larger than 25 mm rounds, therefore reducing the net number of rounds that can be carried in a given space. Though in the case of the 30 mm round as compared to the 25 mm round, the penalty is not high. The Puma stores 400 rounds for the autocannon within the unmanned turret.
The autocannon is equipped with a dual ammunition feed system similar to the 25 mm autocannon. The two ammunition styles available for the autocannon are armor piercing (AP) and air burst. The AP round is an APFSDS-T and is able to effectively engage soft targets, medium armored vehicles and infantry concealed behind barriers. The air burst round is described as the multi-purpose Kinetic Energy-Timed Fuse (KETF) munition. When used for anti-aircraft engagements the round will detonate and discharge a cone of sub-munitions at the fuse setting position. The firing of ammunition occurs on a shot-by-shot selection, with no round being loaded into the breach until the gunner pulls the fire trigger, allowing for high flexibility in target acquisition.
View of main weapon, showing armor around gun barrel and associated sites. Commander’s site can be seen on the top of the turret, the gunner’s site sits below this (with blue circle). To the right (with the white circle) is one of the many drivers navigation cameras positioned around the turret and vehicle.
The Puma has significant enhanced situational awareness technologies integrated with the unmanned turret. This includes stabilized 360° periscopes for the gunner and commander with built-in therma vision and a CCD camera with zoom features. The gunner is additionally provided a thermal vision camera and laser range finder. The driver is provided with an image intensifier and 5 externally mounted cameras which offer extensive viewing capabilities outside of the vehicle. All camera outputs are fed into the on-board imagery display units which offer full views of the vehicle surroundings at all crew stations as well as in the troop compartment where applicable (i.e., APC variant). The intent is that the troops are able to play an active role in situational awareness, identifying possible targets and threats for the vehicle crew.
The secondary weapon is a coaxially mounted 5.56 mm HK MG4 machine gun, with the unmanned turret allowing for a 30 calibre and 50 calibre option as well. The MG4 fires at 850 rounds per minute to an effective range of 1,000 yards. The smaller calibre round was selected over the traditional 30 calibre (7.62 mm) machine gun as the weapon is lighter than a 7.62 mm weapon. The lower ammunition weight means more ammo can be carried. As well the 5.56 mm calibre ammunition is equivalent to that used by the rifles of the crews and troops, permitting them to use the vehicle ammunition if required. There are 2,000 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition stored in the vehicles unmanned turret.
The unmanned turret of the Puma is also equipped with a EuroSpike LR missile launcher. The system carries two missiles which can be used to engage Main Battle Tanks, helicopters, buildings and infantry in bunkers. The missiles have an effective range of 4000 yards and are “Fire and Forget” technology, meaning that the missile will track the identified target once fired without continual direction from the gunner being required.
Puma with class B (ballistic) armor and class SC (shaped-charged) armor kits applied over frontal arc and along the sidewalls of the vehicle. Note relatively large exposed engine air inlet grill on right hand side of vehicle, which is comparatively unprotected and vulnerable to mobility kill fire.
The Puma is considered to be among the best armored IFVs currently in production, making effective use of geometry and available add-on armor systems. Constructed from welded steel the hull has been designed with a minimum of oblique angled on the contoured hull surfaces to avoid bullet traps. The baseline hull is designed to permit flexible mounting of externally applied add-on armor to meet a range of mission profiles. The primary AOA is IBD AMAP composite armor. The baseline armor protects the vehicle and occupants from Russian 14.5 mm AP rounds. The frontal arc of the vehicle also has additional AMAP class B (B for ballistic) armor applied to provide protection against medium calibre kinetic energy threats up to 30 mm cannon fire. The frontal arc and the sides of the Puma have additional up-armored kits available for when a heavy combat operational theatre is anticipated. These kits consists of AMAP class SC (SC for Shaped Charge) armor, which provides protection against shaped charge warheads. These include cannon fired HEAT rounds and RPGs.
With a mass-efficiency of 8-10 as compared to RHA (i.e., provides 8-10 times protection than RHA for a given weight) the AMAPS class SC armor has excellent multi-hit capability. The class SC is able to defeat more than one threat impact on a given module, which is untypical of shaped charge defeating armor. The class SC also provides the vehicle with additional protection against KE rounds and IEDs. AMAP-SC is not an Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) system, but rather is passive, with no explosives used. Therefore impact to a module does not constitute a threat to dismounted infantry, as is the case with ERA based shaped charged defeating armor systems.
The baseline vehicle hull is also equipped to mount a softkill Active Protection Systems designed to defend the vehicle against ATGMs. The Germany Army intends to eventually equip its Pumas with the Multifunktionales Selbstschutz-System (Multifunction Self Protection System), or MUSS, softkill system, which is currently under development. The roof of the Puma is protected against overhead artillery threats and mortar fired bomblets, and the vehicle offers anti-tank mine blast protection from threats of up to 10 kg TNT equivalent. The vehicle is also protects the occupants from Projectile Forming plate thrower mines.
The crew and vehicle dismounts are situated in seating that is suspended from the roof of the vehicle. This seating arrangement reduces forces experienced by the occupant as a result of a mine blast event, preventing or reducing the associated resulting injuries. This seating arrangement also ensure that there is no direct contact between the seat and its occupant with the vehicle floor, preventing injury to the occupant’s lower limbs. In the event of a mine blast event the crew and troops are able to rapidly egress from the vehicle through side-sliding styled roof hatches, which are easier to open than the lift-swinging style hatches.
The Puma was designed to produce a low infrared signature to make it more challenging for an enemy to identify and target, and for heat guided missiles to acquire target lock-on. The low IR signature was attained by applying IR-suppressing paint to the vehicle surface and by mixing the engine exhaust with fresh air to reduce its temperature. The temperature reduced exhaust in then venting through the rear of the vehicle which conceals the heat signature from an enemy in front of a forward facing Puma. Smoke grenade launchers are provided standard, discharged manually by the vehicle driver as deemed required to reduce visible and IR signature of the vehicle.
The fuel tanks of the vehicle are mounted on the exterior to remove the threat to the crew of potential fuel ignition in the event of an overmatch by an Armor Piercing – Incendiary (AP-I) round or shaped charge warhead. While dual externally fuel tanks increase the probability of being able to maintain mobility following a mine blast event and to therefore move beyond the immediate threat area (a feature common on many APC/IFVs).
Germany to Upgrade Infantry Fighting Vehicles in $1.2 Billion Contract
The upgraded vehicle’s fusion mode capability will help to detect camouflaged targets making this the first western vehicle equipped with such a capability.
The German military has signed a more than 1 billion euro ($1.2 billion) contract to upgrade 154 Puma infantry fighting vehicles, Rheinmetall announced in a statement.
The PSM GmbH consortium, co-owned by Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, will begin the upgrade this month and is expected to complete it in 2029.
Option of Additional Upgrade
The contract also includes an option to upgrade an additional 143 Puma vehicles at a cost of 820 million euros ($973 million).
The upgrade will modernize the vehicles according to the S1 design.
Meanwhile, 40 of Germany’s Pumas out of a total of 350 have already been upgraded to the S1 standard, the statement revealed.
The S1 Standard
The upgrade will see the vehicles being retrofitted with “standoff-capable effectors like the MELLS multirole lightweight guided missile system.”
Additionally, the vehicle will be fitted with additional sensors “such as the new driver’s vision system and an improved command-and-control architecture.”
The driver’s vision system allows the crew to “see through the armor, day and night,” which is not possible through the present periscope system, Rheinmetall explained.
Early Detection of Camouflaged Targets
The upgraded vehicle’s fusion mode capability will allow it to combine “daylight vision with a high-quality thermal image,” helping in the early detection of camouflaged targets, day or night. This is the first western vehicle equipped with such a capability as a standard feature, the statement added
Meanwhile, the S1 version is part of the German Military’s System Panzergrenadier, or mechanized infantry plan, which will see a digitized platform such as the S1 vehicle being linked with a soldier system featuring digital radio technology.