Armor: Piranha Rolls East


January 25, 2018: In early 2108 Romania ordered 227 Piranha V IFVs (infantry fighting vehicles). These are 8x8 wheeled armored vehicles. Average cost is $4.5 million per vehicle and that includes training, spare parts and technical support. Most (except for the first 36) of these IFVs will be produced locally under license. The first 36 Piranha Vs arrive in 2018 while the rest will be produced locally over the next few years. The Piranha Vs will join 31 Piranha IIIs Romania bought a few years ago and replace locally made modifications of Cold War era designs like the TAB-71 (based on the Russian BTR).

Piranha V is a British variant manufactured by a Swiss firm. Piranha I first became available in 1972 and over 5,000 (including derivatives and variants) have been built so far. The Piranha design and technology is found in numerous other similar vehicles (like the Canadian LAV and American Stryker. The Swiss manufacturer is now owned by an American firm.

The Piranha V is the latest and most protected vehicle of the successful and widely licensed Piranha line. It is a further development of the Piranha IV design. The Piranha V appeared in 2010 and was no longer considered as an APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) but rather a wheeled infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). The Piranha V itself is an eight-wheeled armored vehicle is operated by a crew of two or three and carries eight or nine passengers. The vehicle weight ranges from 17 to 30 tones depending on the version. The Romania is believed to receive five variants: armored personnel carrier, infantry fighting vehicle, command, mortar, engineering and ambulance one.

The Piranha V it is air transportable using the new A400M (similar to the C-130) and its design is highly modular for maximum flexibility. This is an increasingly common approach also shared by competitive designs such as Boxer or VBCI. This makes it easier to create variants for different purposes if necessary.

The latest Piranha is better protected than its predecessors because new modular armor uses lighter ceramic matrix which is attached to steel hull. This design allows quick replacement of damaged modules or easy upgrade when new armor technology develops. Moreover the vehicle has a double floor with a V-shaped hull for better protection against anti-tank mines or roadside bombers. The hull can withstand a 10 kg (22 pound) anti-tank mine blast under any wheel.

For survivability the baseline variant has all round protection against 14.5mm machine gun bullets, while the front can withstand 30mm autocannon projectiles. The maximum armor protection available is said to provide all-round protection against 25-mm armor-piercing projectiles. In addition to the new armor Piranha V has some impressive new standard equipment like LEDS-150 active protection system which consists of a missile warning sensor, a laser warning sensor, a jammer to disrupt incoming missiles or the laser based fire control systems of enemy weapons and counter munition launchers which can destroy incoming missile or a HE, HESH and HEAT gun fired ammunition at safe distance (more than five meters stand-of detonation). To ensure sufficient mobility the vehicle is fitted with a new high power 580 horsepower diesel engine which gives sufficient a power-to-weight ratio.

Piranha V armament can be configured to suit specific national requirements of every country. Available weapons selection is pretty wide from light remote controlled gun stations, turrets with autocannons up to even low recoil 105mm and 120mm guns. Unfortunately we don’t know which practically configurations Romania army has chosen but IFV variant will most likely be armed with 30 autocannon while APC will stay with a remote controlled machinegun.

The Romania which joined NATO in 2004 also committed itself to modernize their armed forces to western standard by spending about 11 billion dollars till 2026 and raise defense budget to meet recommended NATO 2 percent of GDP criteria. The Piranha V contract is only one and most recent example of Romania army modernization effort. -- Przemysław Juraszek




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