By Nick Adde
As the Army considers bidders to build the next-generation ground combat vehicle (GCV), Europe’s premier builder of highly protected tracked and wheeled vehicles wants to make its case that they have a fully tested and operational answer.
The Puma military fighting vehicle, built by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) of Munich, Germany, would be the ideal replacement for the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, KMW spokesman Kurt Braatz said Oct. 22, at the company’s pavilion, during the 2013 Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.
Braatz cited credible and official data to back up KMW’s claim – provided by the Congressional Budget Office.
“Interestingly enough, the CBO released an investigation in early 2013 that states the U.S. Army could save $40 billion by procuring Puma instead of setting up a new project,” Braatz said.
Buoyed by that report, KMW decided to attend the 2013 annual meeting and make a public pitch on behalf of Puma.
“It encouraged us to come here and show Puma’s capabilities in protection,” Braatz said.
The company’s display included a cross-section of a Puma hull that had sustained a direct hit by an antitank mine during a field test. While the floor of the vehicle was slightly bowed and showed a scar from the explosion, Braatz said, the Puma remained intact and operable.
“Other structures would have broken up,” Braatz said. “Puma absorbs very high energy blasts and brings its crew back safely. It is the best [vehicle of its kind you can get anywhere in the world.”
Braatz declined to talk about any official Puma-related activities taking place between U.S. Army leadership and KMW, other than to say that “informal discussions” were underway. He did note, however, that several high-ranking officers stopped by the pavilion for a look at the cross-section display.
“What I did see was interest from the troops in this exhibit,” Braatz said, particularly in the vehicle’s inherent ability to mitigate mine threats.
The KMW exhibit also displayed the Puma’s unmanned turret – equipped nearly completely with U.S.-manufactured gear. The two weapons – a 35-millimeter cannon and .50-caliber machine gun – are made by ATK Inc. A U.S. division of Meggitt Defense Systems built the ammunition-handling system. Moog Inc. built the turret system.
“Puma is scalable and could easily be modified to fit the needs of the U.S. Army,” Braatz said.