When I recently got the opportunity to revisit the Puma and go on a test drive, I gladly accepted it. Apart from being very impressed with what I experienced, I also got a lot of new information on this very versatile vehicle.
The Puma offers a very viable and cost-effective alternative to the ageing Casspir and Mamba APC’s. Not only does the Puma offer mine/blast protection equal to that of the Mamba, it offers superior ballistic protection over both the Casspir and the Mamba.
The Puma M26 MPV is an evolutionary development of the Puma 4x2 MPV that is in service in Iraq where it proved its crew survivability during Improvised Explosive Device (IED) incidents.
As an MPV/MRAP, Puma is designed to carry a section of 8 plus a driver and vehicle commander (total of 10 occupants). The modular interior layout can, at additional costs, be changed to re-configure the vehicle for any one of the following roles:
1. Command and control vehicle
2. Tactical ambulance with one stretcher or four sitting patients plus first line/tactical medical equipment
3. A 6-seater tactical patrol vehicle
4. A tactical fire-support vehicle with 60mm mortar and 40mm AGL/heavy machinegun.
Some basic technical specifications on the Puma are as follows:
1. Crew: 10 (2+8)
2. Maximum Gross Vehicle Mass: 8 000 kg
3. Drive: Selectable 4x4
4. Steering wheel orientation: Right hand drive. Left Hand drive is available at no additional cost
5. Ballistic protection: 7,62 x 51mm NATO Ball and 5,56 x 45mm NATO Ball (B6+/ STANAG Level 1)
6. Mine protection: 8kg TNT anywhere under the vehicle and 10kg TNT under any wheel
7. Entrance doors: One rear plus two side doors in driver’s compartment
8. Roof hatches: 2 on the rear part of the roof. The hatch doors open to the outside of the roof and can be locked in the closed, vertical or horizontal positions
9. Gunner’s hatch: A round gunner’s hatch with optional 3600 cupola ring with (optional) NATO type fitting for a pintle mounted light (or medium) machine gun is fitted on the roof
10. Firing ports. A total of 11 firing ports are fitted in the hull
11. Radio fitments. Universal racks and fitments for two radios are fitted
12. Rifle brackets. Two OTT designed universal rifle brackets are fitted in the driver’s compartment
13. Wheels: Total of 5 (4 plus 1 spare)
14. Air conditioner. High capacity air conditioner is fitted as standard.
Armies who face the threat of IEDs and landmines on a daily basis or who find their vehicle movement under constant ambush will do well to consider the Puma.
Personally, I believe that this vehicle will make a massive impact on the battlefield and aid in troop-survivability.