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Germany’s two top military vehicle makers, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall, have been awarded an order to build a further 50 Puma infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), the companies announced on 15 May 2023.

A contract worth EUR 1.087 Bn for the IFVs was issued by Germany’s Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) to Projekt System & Management GmbH (PSM) a joint venture of KMW and Rheinmetall Landsysteme. Of the contract total, EUR 574 M will go to KMW and EUR 501 M to Rheinmetall.

A framework agreement was also signed that will enable a subsequent call-off of further Puma IFVs.

In addition to the 50 Puma IFVs, the order also includes eight flight-phase simulators for the MELLS (Spike-LR) multi-role missiles that arm them as well as spare part packages and special tool sets. Furthermore, an option exists for additional driver training vehicles and the integration of a turret-independent secondary weapon system (TSWA). Deliveries are set to start in December 2025 and be complete by the beginning of 2027.

The Bundeswehr already has 350 Puma IFVs in its inventory and was set to order more when, during trials in 2022, the vehicles suffered extensive breakdowns. This latest Puma order is thus a resumption of plans to further build out the Puma fleet, with the vehicle’s revealed defects apparently resolved.

The BAAINBw order for 50 Puma IFVs announced announced on 15 May 2023 should bring the Bundeswehr’s Puma fleet up to 400 vehicles. (Photo: KMW/Rheinmetall)

The Puma IFV is the principal weapon system of the German Army’s mechanised infantry units. It can carry nine personnel: a crew consisting of the vehicle commander, gunner and driver, plus a six-strong infantry section.

The vehicle has a basic Class A level of armour that can withstand 14.5 mm rounds and allows it to be airlifted in an A400M transport aircraft, while an add-on Class C armour package, which up-armours the sides and roof adds around 9 tonnes to the vehicle original gross vehicle weight of 31.5 tonnes. The vehicle is protected against mine charges of up to 10 kg, while the Pumas in German service also have a soft-kill Multifunctional Self Protection System (Multifunktionales Selbstschutz-System – MUSS).

The Puma is armed primarily with a Rheinmetall 30 mm MK 30-2/ABM (air-bust munition) autocannon, but also has a coaxially mounted 5.56 mm HK MG4 machine gun as well as a MELLS launcher mounted on the turret.

In February 2023 the BAAINBw ordered the comprehensive modernisation of 143 Puma IFVs in the Bundeswehr inventory that had not yet been upgraded to the latest S1 standard. The upgrade, to be complete in 2029, includes the integration of high-resolution day- and night-capable camera systems, the MELLS missile system and the integration of digital radio equipment.

The 50 newly ordered Pumas will also be built to the S1 standard.

Peter Felstead