According to Agence France Presse, Lithuania said on December 11 it would buy 88 German-made armoured fighting vehicles in its biggest-ever military purchase amid concerns over neighbouring Russia. «We have come to the unequivocal opinion to choose and acquire the Boxer Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV)», said Lithuania’s defence chief Jonas Vytautas Zukas.
Speaking after a meeting of the State Defence Council, he said the Baltic EU and NATO nation had picked the German-made vehicles out of 12 bids. The first vehicles made by the Artec grouping of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles are expected to arrive in 2017.
Jonas Vytautas Zukas said the price would be disclosed only after the talks with Artec are over, but a government source said the deal could be worth around 400 million euros ($438 million). In its state budget for 2016 approved on Thursday, Lithuania has vowed to raise defence spending by more than a third against this year amid increased concerns over Russia’s actions in Ukraine and military activity in the Baltic area.
In September, Lithuania signed a 16-million-euro deal to buy 21 used self-propelled howitzers from Germany. The United States has meanwhile deployed some military equipment in Lithuania, including its Abrams battle tanks.
The three Baltic States and Poland have also called for a permanent NATO presence in the region to deter Russia but the allies have so far stuck to back-to-back troop rotations.
Combat Weight Maximum
77,162 lbs/35,000 kg
711 hp/530 kW
> 62 mph/100 km/h
27.33 feet/8.33 m
9.81 feet/2.99 m
> 9.65 feet/2.94 m
All around anti-tank mines and anti-personnel landmines, heavy machine gun and artillery fragments
After extensive testing by the Bundeswehr’s Technical services, many months of testing in extreme heat and cold abroad, and several field trials by the military, another milestone has now been achieved in the project PUMA Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) with the authorization for use granted by the BAAINBw defence procurement agency.
Many conditions had to be met for this, some of which key are listed below. On the basis of tests and test results, technical optimizations were repeatedly developed, qualified and continuously introduced into series production vehicles. Thereafter, the test report was finalized by the Central Military Motor Vehicles office (Zentrale Militärkraftfahrtstelle), which issued the necessary approval and made it street-legal. Finally, the Army Inspector (Inspekteur Heer) formally declared April 13 that the Schützenpanzer (SPz) PUMA was ready to enter service. This was on the same day that the BAAINBw granted the clearance for service.
Thus, operations are scheduled to begin next week with the training of instructors on the first seven armored vehicles. Others will follow in the coming months. This training period will continue until the end of the year at the training center in Munster. There, an introduction organisation PUMA eine Einführungsorganisation (EFO) was set up specifically for the PUMA, and will perform the initial training of mechanized infantry companies on IFV PUMA for three months, also at the Munster training center. The EFO will also accept delivery of the vehicles by the manufacturer, adds Bundeswehr-furnished equipment and hands them over to the trainee soldiers there. Thus, the Panzer Grenadiers will take «their» own SPz PUMA after the three-month training cycle, in order to further familiarize themselves with «their» new vehicles on their bases.
The contracts necessary for the repair and technical and logistical support have been concluded between the army and the PSM GmbH, so the support of the PUMA by industry is thus ensured.
PUMA Infantry Fighting Vehicle
The PUMA combines the contrary requirements for high strategic and tactical mobility on the one hand and maximum protection and maximum fire power on the other in an optimum manner in one single high-performance weapon system, capable to react adequate and flexible at any time, at any location and at any level of intensity.
Therefore, the PUMA offers with its innovative and forward-looking solutions:
optimum protection against any type of threat for maximum survivability of the crew;
optimum armament for escalation and de-escalation in all missions;
rapid, strategic, global deployability and high tactical mobility;
network centric warfare capability;
sustainability under extreme climatic conditions and inadequate infrastructural conditions.
Some important technical solutions improve the PUMA’s combat effectiveness significantly:
integration of the German Battlefield-Management-System «FüInfoSys»;
integration of the German Future Soldier System «IdZ»;
the MUltifunctional Self-protection System (MUSS), a softkill system against guided missiles, will be integrated. Integration of a launcher for two missiles for the Anti Armour/Multi-Purpose Missile System SPIKE LR (EuroSpike).
Available interfaces for:
alternative active protection systems;
remote controlled grenade launcher.
The PUMA achieves this firepower through the interaction of different innovative elements:
The main armament is the fully stabilized, automatic 30-mm Mk-30-2 ABM fitted to the remote-controlled turret. This weapon designed for target engagement on great distances also on the move.
200 rounds of two types of ammunition are available ready to use. Further 200 rounds are stowed in the chassis.
A variety of state of the art optical and optronic vision devices enables the whole crew 360° all-around surveillance, recognition and identification of targets on long distances.
The hunter-killer functionality, as available in the Leopard 2 main battle tank, allows the rapid engagement of several targets within a very short time
PUMA receives an additional weapon system with the integration of the Anti Armour/Multi-Purpose Missile System SPIKE, provided by EuroSpike. The integration of SPIKE boosts the PUMA’s lethality significantly.
Germany and France are going to develop the Main Battle Tank of the XXI century. According to DefenseNews, French Nexter Group and German family-controlled Krauss Maffei-Wegmann are on track to forge a cross-border link up in the land weapons sector this year. The French state-owned company said: «On July 1, 2014, the shareholders of the two French and German companies signed a memorandum of understanding for an equally owned alliance. This project is progressing and should produce concrete results in 2015».
On the business front, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (Defence Procurement Agency, DGA) has awarded a contract worth some €330 million ($349.4 million) to Nexter Systems to upgrade 200 Leclerc tanks and 18 tank recovery vehicles with delivery from 2020, the procurement office said in a statement March 12.
Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has written into his 2015 agenda an agreement for the joint venture deal in July or August, an announcement which caught some in industry by surprise. The proposed joint holding company is named KMW and Nexter Together, or KANT. The Bode family controls KMW through the Wegmann firm.
An accord in the summer, however, seems unlikely as there is a political drag effect due to Nexter’s privatization being caught up in an attempt to liberalize the ailing French economy. There is no problem on the industrial front as Nexter and KMW opened up their books for due diligence and that detailed examination of their businesses will lead to a valuation of the two companies. That scrutiny is going ahead smoothly even if the conclusion might miss the April 1 deadline, an industry source said. The due diligence allows the two shareholders to negotiate the valuation and whether amounts must be paid to bring each side to the 50:50 share in the holding company, noted Pierre Tran, DefenseNews reporter.
On the political front, France must privatize Nexter to allow the company to form the planned joint holding company with KMW. However, that will likely take longer than expected as the privatization has been written into a wide-ranging draft legislation proposed by Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker who seeks to inject more competition into the domestic economy. The proposed Macron law has run into strong political resistance from both the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire conservative party and left wing of the Socialist Party. That will likely delay the joint venture agreement to the autumn, the source said.
KMW Chairman Frank Haun on January 14 told the French National Assembly defense committee the alliance would work over the next five years developing a tank – whether it be called Leopard 3, Leleo or Leoclerc – and the new heavy armored vehicle could be delivered 2025-2030 to replace the Leclerc and Leopard 2.
The Russians are working hard on tank development, and Nexter and KMW could exchange their «very interesting» technology to build replacements for the Leclerc and Leopard, Frank Haun said. Fully automated artillery, smart munitions and laser weapons are among the new weapons on which the KANT alliance would work, he added.
Nexter Chairman Philippe Burtin told the committee the SCORPION (Synergie du COntact Renforcé par la Polyvalence et l’InfovalorisatiON) Army modernization program will generate an average annual €200 million of work. The companies will have five years to see if the alliance works and if not, they can back out, Macron said.