In late June 2015 the German Army received their first mass produced Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). The first few Pumas off the production line will be used for preparing instructors who, after returning to parent units will train crews as the new Pumas arrive.
The army initially ordered 405 Pumas in 2009 but later cut down to 350 because of budget reductions. All 350 are to be delivered in 2020. The Puma program was launched in 2004 and cost nearly $5 billion. Part of that expense went towards intensively testing Puma in extreme weather and geographical conditions both in Germany and overseas (Norway and the United Arab Emirates).
Puma is the most recent German IFV to enter service and will replace most of the proven but elderly Marders (which have been in service since the 1970s). Puma is operated by a crew of three along with six passengers. There are three variants ranging from A (around 31 tons) to C (43 tons). To ensure sufficient mobility the vehicle is fitted with a new high power 1088 horsepower diesel engine which gives great a power-to-weight ratio.
The three variants differ mainly in their degree of protection. Variant A gives all round protection against 14.5mm machine gun rounds, RPGs and artillery fragments while the front and flanks can withstand 30mm auto-cannon rounds. The IFV is also protected against explosives of up to 10 kg (22 pounds) and most mines. The A variant is air transportable in the new A400M.
Variant C has additional armor fitted to the hull and turret that provides protection said to be similar to the Russian T-72. If so this is phenomenal for an IFV, even a 43 ton one. For example to transport three Puma C would require four A400M aircraft, one for each IFV while the fourth would carry the additional armor, that would have to be slid back into place on the ground. The additional armor is designed to be quickly installed or removed.
In addition to the add-on armor Puma has some impressive new standard equipment like MUSS (Multifunctional Self-Protection System) which consists of a missile warning sensor, a laser warning sensor plus a powerful computer and countermeasures to disrupt incoming missiles or the laser based fire control systems of enemy weapons.
Puma is armed with a remotely controlled turret fitted with a dual feed stabilized Mauser 30mm MK 30-2 cannon which has a rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute and a range of up to 3,000 meters plus coaxial mounted 5,56mm MG 4 machine gun. The 30mm cannon uses two types of ammunition:
-APFSDS-T (armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot - tracer) for anti-armor purposes.
-ABM (air burst munition) is programmable ammunition with an electronic timer and warhead witch dozens of tungsten pellets. This type of ammunition is devastating for infantry and is serious threat even for helicopters.
The primary anti-tank weapon is a launcher (mounted on the turret) for the two SPIKE LR anti-tank missiles. These have a max range up to 4,000 meters.
Many armor experts believe above Puma is probably the best IFV today. It possess unmatched protection level without sacrificing mobility and is first to use unmanned remote controlled turret. It even gained interest in the United States as the army there searches for a new vehicle to replace the M113s and M2 Bradley. --- Przemys&&22;aw Juraszek