Rheinmetall awarded €1.04 billion contract to upgrade Puma IFV of Bundeswehr

The German defense ministry has awarded a €1.04 billion contract to a joint venture between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall for the upgrade of the first lot of the Bundeswehr’s Puma infantry fighting vehicle, bringing them up to a uniform enhanced design status.

The contract for modernizing Germany’s fleet of Puma IFVs was signed on June 28 at the Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) in Koblenz.

Work is slated to begin in July this year and is expected to be complete in 2029. The initial phase of the order encompasses 154 vehicles.

The contract also contains an option for modernization of a further 143 Puma infantry fighting vehicles, which for the PSM consortium would mean additional sales volume totalling €820 million.

The major refit now being embarked on 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. In preparation for the NATO High Readiness Joint Task Force VJTF 2023, which will be furnished by the Bundeswehr, forty Puma IFVs have already been upgraded to S1 status. Of the 350 Pumas in service, the only ones not included in the modernization program are the 13 driver training vehicles.

Among other things, 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. 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.

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The fusion mode combines daylight vision with a high-quality thermal image, enabling early detection of camouflage targets around the clock. The S1 version of the Puma version 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 S1 version of the Puma forms the System Panzergrenadier. For the first time in Germany, the System Panzergrenadier links a digitized platform – the advanced S1 version of the Puma IFV – to a soldier system featuring digital radio technology. On 18 March 2021, speaking on behalf of the Bundeswehr, Lieutenant General Alfons Mais, the German Army chief, declared the system “ready for action”.

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