Procurement: Getting Pumped With Pumas

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November 16, 2007: Germany has ordered 405 Puma infantry fighting vehicles (IFV)[PHOTO], at a cost of about $10.4 million each. Two years ago, the German army received the first 30 Pumas. This was to let the troops evaluate the vehicle and get used to it. The army wanted 1,100 Pumas to replace the 2,000 Cold War era (1970s) Marder IFVs. But it appears the army will have to settle for less than half that number. The troops like it, but the tax payers are put off by the cost.

The Marder was innovative when it was new, and the Puma also contains lots of innovations. The basic model has a remote (from inside the vehicle) control turret equipped with a new 30mm automatic cannon design. This type of remote control system has worked well in Iraq, where it is widely used in American vehicles.

The Puma armor protection comes in three levels, depending on how many protective panels are loaded on to the vehicle. 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 have settled on the 31.5 ton version as the 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 over 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 will also be "digital." Noting the success the U.S. Army has had with equipping their armored vehicles with "battlefield Internet" communications equipment, the Germans will do the same with Puma.

Production of Puma will continue through the end of the decade. The 24 by 12 foot vehicle is ten feet high, and carries up to eleven in an air conditioned compartment. Top road speed is 70 kilometers an hour.

 


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