Romania is modernizing and buying 227 of the Mowag Piranha V 8x8 wheeled armored vehicle. These will be built under license in Romania using a refurbished Cold War era military vehicle plant. As a member of NATO the Piranha V is part of an effort to replace elderly Cold War era Russian designed equipment with material common with that of NATO allies.
Piranha V is a 30 ton 8x8 vehicle that is 8 meters (26 feet) long, 3 meters (9.8 feet) wide and 2.34 meters (7.7 feet) high. The small turret normally mounts a 12.7mm machine-gun but can also be equipped with ATGM (Anti-tank guided missile) or an automatic grenade launcher. The vehicle carries three crew (gunner, driver commander) and eight passengers. Top speed is 100 kilometers an hour on roads. The vehicle is amphibious and has a top speed of 10 kilometers an hour in the water. Range on roads is 550 kilometers. Armor will protect against heavy machine-guns (12.7mm) and most shell fragments.
Piranha V is the latest version of Piranha, which first appeared in 1972 as Piranha I. This was a 9.3 ton 6x6 vehicle of similar design to all the other Piranha but smaller and with room for a crew of three and five passengers. Since 1972 the basic Piranha design have grown in popularity with many more models primarily because adaptability was intentional. For example in 2008 Iraq bought 392 LAV (Light Armor Vehicle) 25. These are the same 8x8 wheeled vehicles used by the U.S. Marine Corps. The LAV series are a licensed version of the Piranha. The Canadian version, the LAV III, (Piranha III) was the basis of the U.S. Stryker armored vehicle, which has been used heavily in Iraq, and apparently has impressed the Iraqis.
The LAV 25 is a 13 ton vehicle equipped with a turret mounted 25mm automatic cannon and a coaxial 7.62mm machine-gun. On top of the turret is another machine-gun. The 25mm cannon has a range of 3,000 meters, and has proved very useful in combat. Some of the Iraqi LAV-25s will be the turretless command or ambulance models, but 90 percent will be the infantry carrier version (crew of three, plus seats for six passengers). Top speed is 100 kilometers an hour. These vehicles cost about a million dollars each.
Mowag is one of several defense manufacturers that have flourished in Switzerland despite the fact that the Swiss have managed to stay out any wars since the early 1800s. Mowag has long been a successful designer and manufacturer of military vehicles. The U.S. Marine Corps was a long time user of the Mowag Piranha LAV. Mowag was founded in 1950 but in 2003 was purchased by General Dynamics, an American firm. This enabled Mowag to remain competitive in global markets.