Germany’s Puma Is One Tough Future Piece of Fighting 'Armor'

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Germany’s Puma Is One Tough Future Piece of Fighting 'Armor'

Berlin has a lot of experience with warfare and the German Bundeswehr’s Puma may be one of the best armored, most mobile IFVs in existence.

Germany’s Puma infantry fighting vehicle may be one of the best-protected vehicles in the IFV class. The design first entered production in the early 2010s, and replaces the older, 1970s-era Marder (German for marten) infantry fighting vehicle. Though the two vehicles are outwardly similar, they differ significantly in their capabilities, with the Puma offering advantages across the board, including firepower, protection, and mobility. A recent video released by Germany’s Bundeswehr gives an impression of the Puma’s capabilities, with an emphasis on the IFV’s communications capabilities.

One of the Puma’s most formidable aspects is its 30mm autocannon, which can hurl a variety of projectiles accurately out to 3,000 meters, or about over 1.8 miles. Though the Puma’s 30mm ammunition is decidedly smaller and less powerful than some other similar European IFVs, it offers weight savings as well as an increased ammunition capacity.

The Puma’s auto cannon fires two types of ammunition: a fin-stabilized sabot-type round for used against armored vehicles, as well as an air-burst type of munition that can be used against infantry and other targets, including targets protected in trenches or behind low walls or other similar protection. The Puma’s main gun features an odd-looking metallic tube that measures projectile velocity and uses these measurements to program air-burst ammunition fuses.

Armament aside, one of the Puma’s most formidable aspects is its modular armor protection package, which can be adjusted to counter expected threats, including “against hand-held anti-tank weapons, medium calibre weapons, artillery fragments and bomblets,” according to the manufacturer. In addition to modular armor, the Puma is further protected by an active protection system that can detect an incoming missile or laser missile marker. The system, known as MUSS, can track up to four targets simultaneously.

The Puma’s excellent armor protection is further enhanced by a relatively smooth, low-profile design that presents a relatively small target silhouette considering the Puma’s size. This image gives a good sense of the Puma’s internal layout and how the three crew members and six soldiers would be transported.

The Puma also benefits from a compact, high-output ten-cylinder engine that has a very high 1,100 horsepower output and gives the IFV nearly twenty-five horsepower per ton in its heaviest, most protection configuration. (By comparison, the American M1 Abrams tank weighs in excess of seventy tons and is equipped with a 1,500 horsepower engine, giving the Abrams approximately twenty horsepower per ton.)

The Puma is arguably one of, if not the best-protected infantry fighting vehicles in the world, and is a common-sense design coupled with high-performance German engineering.

Caleb Larson is a Defense Writer with The National Interest. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.

Image: Reuters.