Moving troops through hostile territory is a heck of a lot safer for everyone involved when they’re travelling in an armoured personnel carrier. But Germany’s new state-of-the-art APC does so much more than just move soldiers. It moves them in packs.
Built by the German PSM group, a 50-50 collaboration between defence contractors Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall, the Puma IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) is an armoured troop transport holding six soldiers that can also act as a main battle tank and unmounted troop support vehicle, or an air defence platform, should the situation require. The new generation of Pumas have been in development since the 1990s when they were proposed as a replacement to the existing, ageing fleet of Marder IFVs. The new platform underwent cold weather testing in 2012, hot weather testing last year, and has just recently been officially unveiled at this year’s Eurosatory show.
The Puma is designed as a common platform that can be adapted to a variety of roles and, as such, is highly adaptable. It can be outfitted with three different classes of armour (either entirely or piecemeal): Protection Class A is the basic component siding integrated into the design and weighs 31.5 tonnes. Class B was designed to allow the APCs to be rail transportable isn’t actually employed anymore because Class C, which adds another eight tonnes of composite and spaced armour wrapping around the entirety of the vehicle and roof, are still light enough to enable airlifts aboard A400Ms. The Puma is considered one of the most well-protected APCs in service today.
What’s more, the air conditioned, one-piece, nine cubic metre crew cabin can withstand NBC attacks while allowing the crew to communicate directly with one another, even swap out the driver or gunner — should there be a medical emergency — without having to break the cabin’s seal.
This cabin design has resulted in an interesting armament set up, relying on an off-center-mounted, remote-controlled Mauser 30mm turret as its main gun, an MG 4 machine gun situated opposite, and a fully stabilised 360-degree periscope between them. The 30mm autocannon can fire up to 200 rounds of air burst munitions per minute as far as 3000 metres away.
The vehicle is powered by a newly developed 1072 HP (800kW) diesel engine but even more impressive than its brawn is its brains. The new Pumas are “network-enabled warfare capable” according to PSM, which means they can act as communication relays and mobile command posts for the network connected ground troop of the future. What’s more, when they’re not on the front lines, up to four of these APCs can be linked up in “training mode” to act as combat simulators for crews and unmounted units. [Defense Update – PSM – Wiki]