Tag Archives: Puma IFV

System Panzergrenadier

Rheinmetall is taking on a key role in equipping the NATO spearhead Very High Joint Readiness Task Force 2023 (VJTF 2023), which will be furnished by the German Bundeswehr. Contracts have now been awarded to a consortium for the «System Panzergrenadier VJTF 2023» project, in which Rheinmetall’s share comes to over €470 million, including value added tax. Work has already begun and is set to continue through to the end of the VJTF readiness phase in 2024.

System Panzergrenadier consists of the Puma infantry combat vehicle and the modular Future Soldier – Expanded System (IdZ-ES) soldier system; both are shown here in service with Panzergrenadier Battalion 112 (RhM photo)

On 11 July 2019, the Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-service Support awarded a corresponding contract to ARGE Puma, a consortium consisting of Puma manufacturer PSM Projekt System Management GmbH – a joint venture in which Rheinmetall holds a 50% stake – and Rheinmetall Electronics GmbH. Subcontracting within ARGE will take place shortly.

«System Panzergrenadier» links the Puma infantry fighting vehicle – the mainstay of the German Army’s mechanized infantry – with the modular Future Soldier – Expanded System (IdZ-ES) soldier system, in an advanced, network-enabled warfare environment.

Included in the «System Panzergrenadier VJTF 2023» package is a comprehensive combat performance upgrade of forty-one Puma infantry fighting vehicles, coupled with additional measures for improving communication between the infantry fighting vehicles and dismounted infantrymen. For Rheinmetall, the total value of this order comes to €258.3 million, including value added tax. The systems will be delivered at the end of 2020/beginning of 2021.

Among other things, the package also encompasses complete logistic support of the VJTF Pumas for a period of five years, i.e. spare parts, special tools and spare parts logistics. Also included is a new generation of digital radios for the infantry fighting vehicles as well as integration of the MELLS multirole light guided missile system, significantly expanding the capabilities spectrum of Puma. New daylight and thermal imaging cameras and a color display feature in the upgrade too. Optimized day and night vision will increase the range of reconnaissance, while simultaneously widening the crew’s field of view. Furthermore, new training resources will enable the unit to train in a highly realistic manner.

Closely linked to the hardware of the new optronic systems and monitors for the infantry fighting vehicles is the contract for development of the «Vision Enhancement, Chassis», which is already underway. Including value added tax, it represents sales of €67.2 million, including value added tax.

Furthermore, Rheinmetall is equipping the mechanized infantry companies of the VJTF 2023 with «TacNet», its Battle Management System (BMS). In addition, an initial lot of ten platoon versions of the «Future Soldier – Expanded System» soldier system will be brought up to modern VJTF 2023 standard. Improved communication between the Puma crew and the dismounted infantry section will result in a continuously updated, uniform common operational picture. This way, Rheinmetall gives mechanized infantry a command-and-control capability that extends from the company commander to the individual rifleman on the ground. These modernization moves will mean incoming orders for Rheinmetall worth €146.5 million, including value added tax.

«System Panzergrenadier VJTF 2023» substantially enhances the fighting strength of the VJTF 2023. At the same time, Rheinmetall views these measures as a template for further modernization and digitization of the Bundeswehr.

Modernizing the command and control capabilities of complete mechanized infantry companies and bringing the IdZ-ES up to VJTF 2023 standard involves modifying the hardware and software. Dispensing with the «electronic backbone» is one key innovation. Others include advanced new radio systems for dismounted troops and infantry fighting vehicles, which result in improved command capabilities as well as enabling secure transmission of large amounts of data.

During development of the new vision systems and their integration into the Puma, an initial lot of five sets of prototype assemblies will be fabricated and integrated into five standard vehicles. These tasks are to be complete by 2021. Verification will then take place at the Bundeswehr’s technical centres by 2023.

Furthermore, digitization of the vision technology will proceed in tandem with implementation of NATO Generic Vehicle Architecture (NGVA) in the Puma. It forms the foundation for the future sensor-to-shooter nexus. Already underway, the networking of sensors and effectors in individual vehicles will soon enable the networking of sensors and effectors in entire units and formations. As a result, the Puma will be one of the world’s first digitized combat vehicles.

Panzergrenadiere

Germany’s Panzergrenadiere mechanized infantry will receive one of the most modern armored infantry fighting vehicles in the world with the new Puma. Planning for the successor to the current Marder armored infantry combat vehicle began in 2002, and its operational clearance was granted in April 2015.

Two Puma IFVs during their first public presentation at the Grafenwoehr training ground in Bavaria in September. The 30-mm stabilized gun guarantees a high first-shot hit capability (Bundeswehr photo)
Two Puma IFVs during their first public presentation at the Grafenwoehr training ground in Bavaria in September. The 30-mm stabilized gun guarantees a high first-shot hit capability (Bundeswehr photo)

«Unlike the Marder, the entire crew of the Puma sits in the highly-protected trough, and the turret is unmanned», explains Christoph Jansen of the Koblenz Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr. The Government Technical Director is Deputy Project Manager for the Puma infantry fighting vehicle. «Due to its exposed position, the turret is the most vulnerable part of the vehicle, and with no crew, less armored space is needed, and at the same time, crew safety increases as does space for radios and other equipment».

This innovation has far-reaching consequences. «It is and must be our goal to keep the Puma under armored protection and not relying on the vehicle to pass through unprotected, which requires the use of modern electronic observation and sighting sensors», Jansen continues. «Therefore, in future, and in addition to the existing visual means, even more powerful cameras will be integrated into the turret and the chassis. This way, the crew of the Puma will remain under armor protection day and night, while both stationary and moving, with good all-round visibility».

 

Maximum protection and air-transportability in the Airbus A400M

The Puma is the first armored vehicle of the Bundeswehr equipped with add-on reactive armor on the sides. This armor can be removed for transport, for example, in the Airbus A400M and replaced with little effort against other protection modules. Furthermore, a so-called distance-active «Multifunctional Self-Protection System» (MUST) ensures maximum protection of the vehicle crew.

 

High hit rate, tactile ammunition

«Another strength of the Puma is its high first hit probability», emphasizes Jansen. «One type of ammunition has a programmable detonator. The explosion time can therefore be determined according to the objective».

With the stabilized 30-millimeter automatic cannon, the fully-tracked vehicle can hit targets up to 3,000 meters/9,843 feet away while moving. The Israeli-manufactured multi-role lightweight missile system (MELLS) can engage heavily armored ground targets, such as battle tanks, at distances up to 4,000 meters/13,123 feet.

 

Full operational readiness planned by 2024

«In addition to the Puma, another important building block in the ‘Panzergrenadier system’ is the armed forces’ Infantryman of the Future (IdZ-ES) soldier equipment. In addition to modern sighting equipment, it also includes modern protection equipment and weapons», explains Jansen. «All in all, the interaction between the vehicle and the IdZ-ES results in a high added value for the Panzergrenadier».

Many additional «features» will be integrated in the future, such as the in 7.62-mm caliber MG 5 machine-gun, which will replace the MG 4 in the Puma. The turret-independent secondary weapons system is also provided, which allows the rifle squad in the rear combat area significantly enhanced capabilities of observation and action, with lethal and non-lethal agents. Threats can be engaged both in the rear and in the flank.

Full operational readiness – with all required services – will be achieved by 2024. But that also has its price. «Each Puma will cost around 12 million euros», says Jansen, «and the Bundeswehr has ordered a total of 350 vehicles».

Upgrade German Puma

The German Bundeswehr has contracted with the Rheinmetall Group to supply expanded capabilities and additional equipment for the Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). The Koblenz-based Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) has awarded the project management company an order for a comprehensive expansion package with a gross value of €260 million (€218 million without VAT). In addition to this comes optional retrofitting with further components, for which €108 million (including VAT) has been allocated. A member of the defence consortium tasked with developing and producing the Puma, Rheinmetall’s share in the current order comes to €115 million (€97 million without VAT); commissioning of Rheinmetall within the consortium will take place in the next few weeks.

Rheinmetall to Upgrade German Army’s Puma IFVs
Rheinmetall to Upgrade German Army’s Puma IFVs

These expanded capabilities will further enhance the infantry fighting vehicle’s combat performance in a number of areas as well as providing improved possibilities for training.

Specifically, the expansion package includes among other things the development of a new Turret-independent Secondary Weapon system (TSWA) for the Puma; the installation of advanced visualization and display technology; and the provision of new training resources.

The TSWA system will significantly strengthen the vehicle’s battlefield performance and especially its self-defence capabilities. Remotely controlled from the vehicle’s rear fighting compartment, it is an unmanned weapon station mounted on the rear section of the vehicle rather than on the rotatable turret. This means that threats can be addressed even at very close quarters without having to use the main armament, which is especially important in urban terrain, significantly enhancing crew protection. The TSWA fires 40-mm lethal and non-lethal (e.g. tear gas and flash-bang) ammunition with a maximum range of 400 metres/1,312 feet.

The new order includes sample integration, readying the system for full-scale production and fabrication of three TSWA prototypes. The actual serial production order, in which the entire Puma fleet will be retrofitted with the weapon system, is expected to come in 2023.

In the visualization domain, the Puma’s will be upgraded to meet current standards, with the current black and white monitor and accompanying optics being replaced by a state-of-the-art, high-performance colour displays. This will provide the vehicle commander and gunner with a high-resolution, highly detailed view of the surrounding terrain and the current tactical situation. It will also open up greater possibilities for reconnaissance and target engagement. A new infrared searchlight mounted on the rear of the vehicle will enhance the driver’s night vision capability. Just awarded, the development order includes sample integration of the visualization technology into three vehicles, with exercise of a subsequent series production option envisaged for 2020.

Another order encompasses additional training resources for the operator of the Puma turret, one of the IFV’s most technically sophisticated subsystems. Separate turret training systems, consisting of the serial turret and the upper section of the Puma’s hull, will in future enable the commander and gunner to train with no need for the actual vehicle. Maintenance personnel can practise repair and assembly procedures in a highly effective, highly realistic manner. This relieves the pressure on scarce resources as well as cutting costs, as it avoids tying up the vehicle hardware and results in less wear and tear. This way training can be conducted in a much more flexible way.

Delivery of the turret trainers is to take place during the 2019-2023 timeframe. The order includes eleven new turret trainers as well as the upgrade of an existing system, which will in future give the Bundeswehr a total of twelve systems, or two per battalion. Specifically, they will be deployed at all German mechanized infantry bases as well as at the Bundeswehr training centres in Aachen and Munster.

The Puma infantry fighting vehicle is the most advanced system of its kind worldwide. When it comes to combat effectiveness, mobility, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) capabilities and situational awareness, it sets new standards. Along with modular, high-performance protection, the Puma possesses a unique degree of battlefield lethality and is fully capable of taking part in network-enabled operations. Roomy enough to carry nine troops, this state-of-the-art IFV can be airlifted to the area of operations in an A400M military transport plane.

The Puma is currently being introduced into the German Army. Delivery of all 350 vehicles, which began in June 2015, is scheduled for completion in 2020. The first units are now undergoing training in the use and operation of the Puma system.