Strong weapon system, extremely good self-defense and advanced electronic system, Puma is considered the most modern infantry combat in the world. And Puma IFV is also among the most expensive armored vehicles in the world, costing nearly 8 million USD each – twice as much as originally planned and more than twice that of a modern Russian T-90S MBT with $3.5 million each.
Although the Marder was an excellent machine, the German army needed more than that. And that’s the Puma infantry fighting vehicle. At 31.5 tons, it’s a bit heavier than its predecessor, but the modular AMAP composite armor seems to withstand significantly more threats. Mass production began on 6 July 2009. Production of the first batch of 350 vehicles began in 2010 and was completed in August 2021. A second batch of 229 Pumas has received funding.
The Puma, while externally not very different from existing IFVs, incorporates a number of advances and state-of-the-art technologies. The most obvious of these is the incorporated ability to flexibly mount different armour. Another feature is the compact, one-piece crew cabin that enables direct crew interaction and minimizes the protected volume. The cabin is air conditioned, NBC-proof with internal nuclear and chemical sensors and has a fire suppressing system using non-toxic agents. The engine compartment has its own fire extinguishing system. The only compromise of the otherwise nearly cuboid cabin is the driver station, located in a protrusion in front of the gunner, in front of the turret.
One measure to achieve the one-piece cabin is the use of an unmanned, double-asymmetrical turret: while slightly off-center turrets are common in IFVs, the Puma’s turret is on the left-hand side of the vehicle, while the main cannon is mounted on the right side of the turret and thus on the middle axis of the hull when the turret is in the forward position.
The outer hull is very smooth and low to minimize shot traps and the general visual signature. The whole combat-ready vehicle in its base configuration will be air transportable in the Airbus A400M tactical airlifter. The Puma infantry fighting vehicle has a crew of three, while it can accommodate up to eight infantrymen in the rear compartment. Passengers enter and leave the vehicle via rear power-operated ramp.
The base model has a front and flank protection against 30 mm rounds, while vehicle has an all-round protection against 14.5 mm machine gun fire. The most protected variant can be considered as a heavy IFV. Additional armor modules can be fitted, increasing Puma’s weight to 43 tons. Furthermore in this configuration it it is even heavier than the T-72 main battle tank. It seems that the most protected variant of the Puma withstands 120- and 125 mm projectiles over the front arc. Vehicle also withstands mine blasts equivalent to 10 kg of TNT.
Vehicle is armed with a remotely operated weapon station. It includes a Mauser 30 mm dual-fed cannon. This cannon is used on Austrian Ulan and Spanish Pizarro IFVs, which has an effective range of 3 km. The Puma will be armed with an ATGW launcher, however its type is still unknown. Possibly it will be Spike or one of its variants. Secondary armament consists of a 5.56 mm machine gun and a 76 mm grenade launcher for a close-range defense.
The vehicle is fitted with an MTU V10 diesel engine, with a capacity of 1,073 horsepower, for a maximum speed of up to 70 km/h and a range of 600 km. Puma’s engine is even more powerful than some main battle tanks. For example the original T-72 tank had a 720 hp engine, while a current Russian T-90A main battle tank is powered by a 1,000 hp engine. This German IFV is not amphibious due to its weight.
The Puma offers improvements in situational awareness. The fully stabilized 360° periscope with six different zoom stages offers a direct glass optic link to either the commander or the gunner.
The periscope offers an optronic thermal vision mode and a wide-angle camera with three zoom stages to assist the driver, as well as a laser range finder. The whole array is hunter-killer capable. The commander also has five vision blocks. Apart from the glass optic periscope view directly accessible directly by the commander and gunner and indirectly via the CCD camera. The whole crew has access to the onboard intercom.
Puma has been in service with the German Army since April 2015. Potential and future operators are Chile and Croatia. Nato members are also very interested in this German infantry fighting vehicle.
PUMA: Meet The Infantry Fighting Vehicle Which CONNECTS DIGITALLY To Troops