DThe armaments manufacturers Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) want to repair the Bundeswehr’s defective Puma infantry fighting vehicles “within the next two to three weeks”. The companies announced this on Wednesday evening after their experts were able to examine some of the tanks for the first time on the same day. The first goal is to recognize “a qualified damage pattern”. “The industry wants to do everything in its power to ensure that the Puma remains the backbone of the German armored infantry force,” the companies said in the joint letter.
A look at the annual reports of a joint venture between the two armaments companies reveals details about the complex history of the Puma – and gives clues as to what went wrong. It’s about breakdowns in production, always new requirements – and a lot of money.
The statement shows how great the pressure is on the manufacturer of the Puma. After it became known at the weekend that all 18 Puma armored personnel carriers had failed during a Bundeswehr firing exercise, Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) called for the total failure to be clarified quickly. It also depends on whether the Bundeswehr can continue to use the Puma tanks – this also includes an important follow-up order that KMW and Rheinmetall are hoping for.
Actually upgraded a long time ago
For the armaments companies, it is not only unpleasant that the Puma, previously dubbed the “breakdown tank”, is falling into disrepute, but that the 18 failed armored personnel carriers belong to those that had been specially upgraded by the companies for the use of the fast ones NATO Response Force (VJTF). In a press release last summer, the manufacturers praised “the decisive added value of a fully digital and networked weapon system”, but the technical systems are said to have been the main problem during the exercise.
The Puma infantry fighting vehicle should be an important piece of equipment when Germany leads the VJTF from January 1st. The special unit, which was set up as part of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, should be ready for action in a few days in an emergency. Instead of Puma tanks, the Bundeswehr is now providing the more than 50-year-old Marder tank system due to a lack of alternatives.
A joint venture is in focus
A society in Kassel, whose weal and woe is completely dependent on the problems being solved with the Puma tank, is likely to be particularly nervous. That’s where Projekt System & Management GmbH (PSM) is based, a joint venture whose shareholders are equal parts KMW and Rheinmetall Landsysteme. It was established for a single purpose: to control the development, manufacture, use and marketing of the Puma. From entries in the Federal Gazette it can be seen that the business was not only profitable at the time the ordered tanks were delivered, but also through other contracts, such as for maintenance and repairs.