Scheduled to replace its predecessor, the Marder, by 2020, the Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle ranks as the Bundeswehr’s showcase armored vehicle project. Defense concerns Rheinmetall Landsysteme and Kraus-Maffei Wegmann have been developing and fine-tuning this cutting-edge vehicle for a decade and its performance and progress on the defense scene have attracted keen interest among observer countries. With its ultra-compact, high-performance mtu PowerPack, the vehicle delivers outstanding maneuverability and transport capabilities across the full spectrum of global climate conditions. We visited one of the locations where the Puma is assembled.
The Bundeswehr’s Puma first sees the light of day in the remote and largely rural Lueneburg Heath region of northern Germany. With around 3,500 inhabitants, the village of Unterluess is around an hour’s drive away from the nearest major population centers of Hamburg to the north and Hanover to the south. Here, in an area covering more than 50 square kilometers (around 7-times the size of the VW facility in Wolfsburg) is where the Puma armored vehicle first starts out in life. Or, to be more exact, it is where Pumas with even-numbered serial registrations are assembled.
Drive PowerPacks from mtu
Under the umbrella of the specially formed PSM organization (Projekt System & Management GmbH), production of the new armored vehicle is shared between defense technology concerns Rheinmetall and Kraus-Maffei Wegmann (KMW). The program foresees delivery of 350 Pumas to the Bundeswehr by 2020. Eight of the armored vehicles are projected as driver-training units. Vehicles with odd-numbered serial registrations are manufactured at KMW facilities in Munich and Kassel whilst the even-numbered units are produced at the Rheinmetall facility in Unterluess. However, no matter which production facility is involved, the powerpack for the Puma comes from mtu
. At around 3.5 tonnes, the mtu
drive PowerPack accounts for around a tenth of total vehicle weight (up to 43 tonnes). The PowerPack includes a 10-cylinder mtu
Series 890 engine, a 6-gear Renk transmission unit, a starter-generator from Jenoptik and a cooling and air-filtration system. “This drive unit is more compact than any other previous defense drive system. Its power/mass ratio of 1 kW per 1.5 kg engine weight is unique for this application,” said Jürgen Schimmels, Director, Special-Purpose Engines & Propulsion Systems at MTU Friedrichshafen. With compactness of design playing a major role among the Puma’s development targets, these performance figures reflect an important aspect of the vehicle’s success.