Armor: The Hungarian Lynx


September 14, 2020: Hungary is spending $2.4 billion to build (under license) at least 200 German Lynx IFVs (Infantry fighting vehicle). This type of tracked IFV is not used by Hungarian troops, which currently depends on an older Russian design, the wheeled BTR-80/80A. These were modernized in 2008 but proved to have a hard time keeping up with tanks when off road. Hungary will be the first export customer for Lynx, which is currently being considered by Australia, the Czech Republic and the United States.

The Lynx contract includes logistical and technical support, especially for setting up the Lynx assembly plant in Hungary and determining which components can be obtained locally. A few German made Lynx will be delivered by 2022, with production in Hungary is expected to be underway shortly thereafter.

Lynx was designed by Rheinmetall, which also produces the new Puma IFV for the German Army. Lynx is a less expensive version of the $9 million Puma and is more easily customized to suit export customer needs. Unlike the Puma, Lynx was privately developed without any government support. All the features of the Puma, and much more besides, are available for Lynx. Unlike the Puma, the Lynx is available in two chassis sizes. The smaller KF31 can carry three crew and six passengers while the KF41 has a more powerful engine and carries eight passengers. Each has a turret which can be equipped with 30mm or 35mm autocannon plus a 7.62mm machine-gun. The KF31 has a top speed of 65 kilometers an hour and the KF41 is 70 kilometers an hour. Each model can be equipped with a wide variety of electronics and different degrees of armor protection. As a result of these variations the weight of these vehicles can range from 30 to 44 tons. The lighter models are based on the slightly smaller KF31 chassis. Both models can be configured as IFVs, recon vehicles, command vehicles, ambulances or vehicle recovery (tow and repair).

The idea behind Lynx was that the popularity of the Puma with German troops would not always translate to many foreign customers. The first of 350 Pumas entered service in 2015 and all be delivered to the German Army by 2020. Puma replaces 2,000 Cold War era (1970s) Marder IFVs. The army wants to buy more Pumas but the government has not agreed to that yet.

Puma contains lots of innovations, many of them suggested by Marder users. The basic model has a remote (from inside the vehicle) control turret equipped with a new 30mm automatic cannon. This RWS (remote weapons system) approach worked well in Iraq, where it was widely used in American vehicles. The Puma armor protection comes in three levels. The basic level results in a 29.4-ton vehicle that protects against artillery, heavy machine guns (up to 14.5mm) and RPG rounds. There's a 31.5-ton and 43-ton version. The Germans settled on the 31.5-ton version as their standard. This one gives all round protection from 14.5mm machine-guns, and some protection from 30mm rounds.

The Puma's 30mm cannon can fire computer-controlled shells that will detonate inside of buildings or above enemy troops taking cover behind a wall or in a trench. The 30mm cannon can fire up to 200 rounds a minute, and has a range of 3,000 meters. The vehicle carries 400 rounds of 30mm ammo, and over two thousand rounds for its 7.62mm machine-gun. Optional weapons include a guided missile launcher or automatic grenade launcher. The 30mm gun also has an armor piercing round that is also effective against personnel (FAPIDS-T, or Frangible Armor Piercing Incendiary Discarding Sabot -Tracer). The Puma has a crew of three (commander, gunner and driver) and carries up to eight infantrymen (or cargo) in the rear troop compartment. The Puma is also "digital." Noting the success the U.S. Army has had with equipping their armored vehicles with "battlefield Internet" communications equipment, the Germans did the same with Puma. The Puma is 7.4 meters (24 feet) long and air conditioned. Top road speed is 70 kilometers an hour.

Lynx offers the same degree of protection from 14.5mm machine-gun and 30mm autocannon rounds. Lynx is also protected against explosives of up to 10 kg (22 pounds) and most mines. This is a similar protection level to Puma, but Lynx doesn’t have to be as compact and thus is easier and cheaper to make. Same as more expensive Puma, protection can be increased by add-on armor packages. In its most well-protected variant, the Lynx is as heavily armored at the Russian T-72 tank. If so, this is phenomenal for an IFV, even a 44 ton one. Other Lynx accessories include an acoustic sensor (which indicates where enemy fire is coming from), a laser warning sensor, smoke dispensers and an APS (Active Protection system).

Lynx can also use the manned LANCE or LANCE 2.0 turret fitted with a stabilized WOTNAN 30 or 35mm cannon. This weapon can fire up to 200 rounds per minute and a ranges of up to 3,000 meters. There is also a coaxial mounted 7.62mm machine gun. The main canon uses two ammunition types: APFSDS-T (armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot - tracer) and ABM (air burst munition) which is programmable with an electronic timer and warhead which dozens of tungsten pellets. This type of ammunition is devastating against infantry and a serious threat even to helicopters.

Lynx can also be equipped with an RWS turret similar to the one used by Puma. There is also an option for an RWS armed with a 12.7mm machine gun or 40mm automatic grenade atop the manned turret.

The primary anti-tank weapon is a launcher (mounted on the turret) for the two SPIKE LR or LR2 anti-tank missiles. These have a max range up to 4,000 or 5,500 meters.

The mobility is provided by a Liebherr turbocharged diesel engine which, depending on the model used, can provide 750, 800 or 1140 horsepower. The last is reserved for KF41 version.

This contract is very important for Rheinmetall and the Hungarian Army. Rheinmetall now has its export first customer for Lynx while Hungarian troops and the Hungarian Lynx manufacturer gain access to a new IFV design that is produced in Hungary. This a something of a gamble because Lynx might still have some problems to fix. In the last decade Hungary has been regularly procuring new equipment form European firms. In 2018 the Hungary signed contracts for 44 Leopard 2 A7+ MBTs, 12 used Leopard 2s for training, 24 PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers and 6 Bergepanzer 3 Buffel armored recovery vehicles. -- Przemyslaw Juraszek




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