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Germany orders Puma IFV upgrades despite purchase stop from 2022

German Army Puma IFV
Photo: KMW

The German defense procurement agency BAAINBw has awarded Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall a contract for the retrofit of another 143 Puma infantry fighting vehicles to the latest standard.

With the contract for the Projekt System & Management GmbH (PSM) joint venture, the German government is exercising two options contained in the contract for retrofitting original Puma infantry fighting vehicles to the new S1 design status. The initial €1.04 billion contract for 154 vehicles was signed in June 2021.

According to Rheinmetall, the order volume is in the region of €770 million, and would see the joint venture upgrade the vehicles by 2029.

The major refit is intended to bring the majority of the first lot of the Bundeswehr’s existing fleet of 350 Puma vehicles up to S1 enhanced design status. The new S1 version of the Puma is characterized by standoff-capable effectors like the MELLS multirole lightweight guided missile system; additional sensors such as the new driver’s vision system; and an improved command-and-control architecture.

Germany is investing in the upgrade of Puma vehicles despite stating in late 2022 that it would not be buying any more of the Puma IFVs until the issues discovered during a trial run for the lead of the NATO very high readiness joint task force (VJTF) in 2023. During that trial, 18 vehicles – of a total of 42 vehicles set to deploy for the VJTF – broke down.

A total of 350 Pumas were to replace the 50-year-old Marder IFV, but the older vehicles are now getting life-extension upgrades and stepping up until the Pumas return to service.

Air-transportable in A-400M aircraft, the Puma transports 6 soldiers along with three crew. It carries a stabilized remote-operable turret with a 30mm automatic cannon. It also carries a turret-mounted Spike missile, which Germany refers to as the MELLS weapon system.