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General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) announced on 15 April 2024 that it has expanded its Piranha wheeled armoured vehicle family with a new variant: the Piranha Heavy Mission Carrier (HMC).

With a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of up to 40 tons (36.3 tonnes) and a payload of 17 tonnes, the Piranha HMC features a 10×10 all-wheel-drive power driveline and a unique multi-link suspension system (MLS) with first/second- and fourth/fifth-axle steering. This arrangement, according to GDELS, facilitiates minimum axle-loads that comply with European road regulations, superior cross-country mobility and trench-crossing capabilities with a reduced turning cycle of less than 18 m.

A key aspect of the Piranha HMC design is that it is modular in nature, with the rear third of the chassis able to accommodate a variety of different mission modules.

Until now the only AFV to adopt such a modular configuration has been the Boxer 8×8 multirole armoured vehicle developed by the ARTEC consortium: a joint venture comprising Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall Landsysteme and Dutch company Rheinmetall Defence Nederland. However, the GDELS HMC solution is not intended to allow mission modules to be swapped, as with the Boxer.

A CGI of the GDELS Piranha HMC with mission module installed. (Image: GDELS)

“With the 10×10 Piranha Heavy Mission Carrier, the company is responding to the growing need for highly manoeuvrable wheeled armoured vehicle platforms for increasingly demanding mission profiles while accommodating essential Military Mobility requirements for NATO and international customers,” GDELS stated in a company press release.

“The Piranha HMC is a direct response to our global customer base’s evolving payload and space claim requirements for versatile and multi-purpose missions including direct and indirect fires, air defence and tactical bridging capabilities,” Dr Thomas Kauffmann, GDELS vice president for global sales and services, was quoted as saying.

“This unique vehicle platform is a result of our continuous strive towards innovative automotive and driveline technologies combined with over 40 years of excellence and experience as a world-class vehicle OEM,” added Giuseppe Chillari, GDELS vice president for wheeled vehicles and managing director of GDELS-Mowag.

Compared to the Piranha HMC’s GVW of up to 36.3 tonnes and payload of 17 tonnes, the latest Boxer has a GVW 38.5 tonnes for its tactical variants, offering a payload of 13.3 tonnes, and a GVW of 41 tonnes for technical variants, giving a payload of 15.8 tonnes.

With the Boxer having been adopted by the armies of Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and Lithuania (and additionally soon to enter UK and and Ukrainian service), GDELS has clearly decided that the AFV market is ripe for an alternative modular AFV with an even heavier mission payload.

A CGI of the GDELS Piranha HMC drive module, which has a payload of up to 17 tonnes. (Image: GDELS)