PHOTO], at a cost of about $10.4
million each. Two years ago, the German army received the first 30 Pumas. This
was to let the troops evaluate the vehicle and get used to it. The army wanted
1,100 Pumas to replace the 2,000 Cold War era (1970s) Marder IFVs. But it
appears the army will have to settle for less than half that number. The troops
like it, but the tax payers are put off by the cost.
ordered 405 Puma infantry fighting vehicles (IFV)[
The Marder was innovative when
it was new, and the Puma also contains lots of innovations. The basic model has
a remote (from inside the vehicle) control turret equipped with a new 30mm
automatic cannon design. This type of remote control system has worked well in
Iraq, where it is widely used in American vehicles.
The Puma armor protection
comes in three levels, depending on how many protective panels are loaded on to
the vehicle. The basic level results in a 29.4 ton vehicle that protects
against artillery, heavy machine guns (up to 14.5mm) and RPG rounds. There's a
31.5 ton and 43 ton version. The Germans have settled on the 31.5 ton version
as the standard. This one gives all round protection from 14.5mm machine-guns,
and some protection from 30mm rounds.
The Puma's 30mm cannon can
fire computer controlled shells, that will detonate inside of buildings or over
troops taking cover behind a wall or in a trench. The 30mm cannon can fire up
to 200 rounds a minute, and has a range of 3,000 meters. The vehicle carries
400 rounds of 30mm ammo, and over two thousand rounds for its 7.62mm
machine-gun. Optional weapons include a guided missile launcher or automatic
grenade launcher. The 30mm gun also has an armor piercing round that is also
effective against personnel (FAPIDS-T, or Frangible Armor Piercing Incendiary
Discarding Sabot - Tracer). The Puma has a crew of three (commander, gunner and
driver) and carries up to eight infantrymen (or cargo) in the rear troop
compartment. The Puma will also be "digital." Noting the success the U.S. Army
has had with equipping their armored vehicles with "battlefield Internet"
communications equipment, the Germans will do the same with Puma.
Production of Puma will
continue through the end of the decade. The 24 by 12 foot vehicle is ten feet
high, and carries up to eleven in an air conditioned compartment. Top road
speed is 70 kilometers an hour.