The German Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle Development
Germany had been running a program called Neuer Schuetzenpanzer (NsPz) which looked at its future requirements for Armoured Fighting Vehicles, with focus on a common platform to fulfil a number of roles, which included Infantry Fighting Vehicles.
The program ended in 2001, but its results were passed on to “The Projekt Systems and Management (PSM) consortium” (is owned by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmettall Landsysteme) which is developing the Puma tracked infantry fighting vehicle for the German Army under a programme authorised by the German Federal Parliament in 2002.
PSM delivered the first prototype in 2006 and 5 further vehicles were delivered for field trials in 2008.
In order to master the challenge of demanded highest possible protection in conjunction with guaranteed air transportability (A400M), PSM has developed a new concept. Up to now, a high protection level in comparable systems has in principle resulted in a high overall weight, with corresponding limitations in terms of transport possibilities.
The Puma’s recipe for success is a completely newly conceptualised two-stage protection level concept. The Puma’s air transportability is guaranteed in a basic version with Protection Level A (Air-transportable), which guarantees the most effective mine protection world-wide.
Through easy to attach additional equipment, an increase to the considerably more extensive Protection Level C (Combat) using additional protection modules is carried out in the area of operation. These armoured modules are fixed to the flanks of the vehicle and are hinged, so that even with maximum Level C protection rail-loading capability is still guaranteed.
With these protection modules the crew receives protection against attacks from hand-held anti-tank weapons, 30 mm machine guns and bomblets. Its mine protection is highly effective against blast and projectile-forming mines. For air transport in the military Airbus A400M a weight reduction to 31.45 tons is achieved through the simple disassembly of the flank protection modules.
Optimum use of space coupled with ergonomic excellence
When it comes to ergonomics, the interior of the infantry fighting vehicle corresponds to the most exacting requirements for ergonomics.
The crew of the Puma occupies a single, unified space–a crucial prerequisite for the effective optimization of all operational and control sequences, up to and including application of the IFV’s weapon systems.
By eliminating the basket, a cube-shaped internal space results, easily enabling the crew and its equipment to be accommodated without compromise. Moreover, the division of space offers major advantages with respect to communication, ensuring that crewmembers can understand each other at all times.
Enormous mobility and flexibility
Through the new protection concept developed by PSM the logistic expense of air transport of the vehicle including additional equipment is minimised. It is possible to transport four vehicles including complete protection equipment in five A400M aircraft, whereby one aircraft transports the Puma’s protection modules as well as additional equipment.
Protection Level A, the basic configuration with a 31.45 tons transport weight, guarantees that the Puma is operationally-ready immediately after unloading. Protection Level C for full combat-readiness is available after a short add-on time. A theoretical scenario that makes this maximum protection necessary immediately after roll out from the aircraft, is not realistic: because the landing of the transport aircraft already requires the military securing of the landing zone.
The Puma is protected by AMAP composite armour, the AMAP-B module is used for protection against kinetic energy threats, while AMAP-SC offers protection against shaped charges.
The heart of the matter: A newly developed HPD-engine
The Puma will be driven by an ambitious new development: The so-called 10-cylinder High-Power Density (HPD) 890-series 1008hp engine is distinguished by its small size and its reduced weight at the same time as having enormous performance power. With a power-to-weight-ratio of some 20 kW/t (27 PS/t, in Protection Level C), a completely new dimension in tank construction is developed.
The new type HPD-engine is a key component in the overall conception of the Puma. The reduced space requirement leads to a reduction in weight, which is to the benefit of the full exploitation of the vehicle’s limited total weight with the increase in protection. In the past, the engine’s construction size was a problematical quantity in the construction of new vehicles, because at the same time space for the crew and for suitable protection was lost. Here a new path is being trod with the Puma.
Reduced-weight five-wheel track-mechanism
The Puma’s decoupled running gear is extremely quiet, substantially reducing the level of noise in the fighting compartment and the impact of vibration on both the equipment and crew. In this important element of the IFV, too, reduced weight plays an important role: featuring five road wheels, the optimized steel tracks weigh significantly less, without however impairing the Puma’s operational effectiveness.
The newly developed remote-controlled turret was chosen in order to reduce the amount of area to be protected. With its turret adaptation–no longer a turret basket–the vehicle is shortened and volume and weight are saved. The Puma’s functionality increases very considerably through the turret adaptation: because the commander is put in the position of reconnoitring the enemy position using allround sensors, whilst at the same time the gunner effectively combats the target using target sensors.
360 degree glass optic
All-around sight is ensured through a 360-degree glass optic with round view periscope. The weapon optic allows for stabilised day and night vision, it includes a laser range-finder as well as an integrated direct sight which makes possible a 360-degree view independent of the position of the turret.
The crew has an 360° all-around view by periscopes. In addition there are mounted a rear-view camera and four ‘0-lux’ cameras as an optronic expansion to the infantry troops’ direct view.
Forward-looking in weapons and ammunition
The Puma’s main armament is a 30 mm MK30-2 ‘Air Burst Munition’ (ABM) machine gun. Its design is based on the already existing, proven MK30-2 weapon, expanded by the new developed Ahead technology (Advanced Hit Efficiency and Destruction).
The combination of the programmable 30 mm automated fuse in accordance with the Ahead-principle, means a high measure of combat power is achieved. Because when exiting the tube the ammunition is informed of the moment for the ejection of a defined number of sub-projectiles before reaching the target. Hit probability at greater distance and against smaller targets can therefore be increased. Through this principle a variety of types of target can be effectively combated with only one type of ammunition.
Command and weapon-use
The means for modern task and mission-management are realised in the Puma. That means amongst other things the integration of command and weapon-use systems, which provide relevant battle and situation information, close to time, up to the group vehicle level. Further to that, the Puma has available two redundant work places with two independent target and observation resources, which leads to a considerable reduction in reaction time.
The vehicle concept
The vehicle concept, which is without equal worldwide, captivates through numerous distinguishing features. All are an expression of the Puma’s revolutionary design and take into account the high demands of future users.
The most important guideline for the Puma-development is to achieve the ‘highest quality and best possible protection with minimised weight’. These will be the outstanding characteristics of the Puma.
Overall technical data
Max. loaded weight 43 tons
Weight (Protection Level A) 31.45 tons
Weight (Protection Level C) 40.7 tons
Crew 9 (6+3)
Maximum speed/roads 70 km/h
Power to weight ratio depending on the weight 20-25 kW/t
Height (total) 3.05m
The German Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle Operators
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall handed over on December 6th 2010 the first two PUMA infantry fighting vehicles to the Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement (BWB) in Kassel for verification tests. This marks the start for the contractual delivery of 405 ordered vehicles to the German Armed Forces. The contract with a volume of roughly 3.1 bn Euro was signed in July 2009. The number ordered was reduced to 350. By the end of 2020, the Bundeswehr will have taken delivery of 350 – between 40 and 60 every year.
The German Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle Potential Operators
Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) have concluded a cooperation agreement with the American companies Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Boeing in order to tender a joint bid for the development contract for the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) programme of the United States Army.
This cooperation will see Rheinmetall and KMW acting as subcontractors to Boeing, with SAIC acting as the general contractor with regard to the procuring agencies. In addition the system will be further developed for the United States Army to accommodate a total crew size of three, plus nine soldiers, a 40mm gun and weigh a total of around 50 tons.
It appears that though congress offices were impressed by the Puma, the Army beleives it is not. Testing for the GCV programme will continue.
The Puma had been Canada’s preferred candidate for its 2010 Close Combat Vehicle Project to compliment its German Leopard 2A4M CAN’s and Leopard A6M CAN’s, however in 2013 the program was cancelled as the upgraded LAV-III entered service.