PSM GmbH – the 50/50 joint venture between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall – has won a major order from the Bundeswehr, to upgrade the first batch of PUMA IFVs, bringing them up to a uniform enhanced design status. The order represents a sales volume of approx. €1.04 billion, Rheinmetall revealed on 29 June.
The initial phase of the order encompasses 154 vehicles, with work to commence in July and be completed by 2029. The contract also contains an option for modernisation of a further 143 PUMAs, representing additional sales volume of approx. €820 million. This major refit is intended to bring the majority of the first lot of the Bundeswehr’s existing fleet of 350 PUMAs (excluding the 13 driver training vehicles) up to the S1 enhanced design status. In preparation for the NATO High Readiness Joint Task Force VJTF 2023, which will be furnished by the Bundeswehr, 40 PUMAs have already been so upgraded.
The S1 variant is characterised by: standoff-capable effectors, such as the MELLS multirole lightweight missile; additional sensors, such as a new driver vision system; and an improved C2 architecture. The parabolic and driver vision system heralds the end of the periscope era. For the first time, the entire crew will be able to ‘see through’ the armour, day and night. The fusion mode combines daylight vision with a high-quality thermal image, enabling early detection of camouflaged targets around the clock. The PUMA S1 is the first western combat vehicle that includes a system of this type as a standard feature.
Teamed with the VJTF 2023 version of Rheinmetall’s Future Soldier – Expanded System infantry (IdZ-ES) system, the PUMA S1 forms the System Panzergrenadier. This links a digitised platform – the PUMA S1 IFV – to a soldier system featuring digital radio technology, for the first time in Germany. On 18 March 2021 Lt Gen Alfons Mais, the German Army chief, declared the system “ready for action.”