After a precise problem analysis, the Puma infantry fighting vehicle should have a future in the troops. Industry and Ministry of Defense agree on steps that should lead to a stable weapon system.
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) wants to hold on to the Puma infantry fighting vehicle after a comprehensive analysis of the breakdowns. However, industry and the Bundeswehr have “homework” to do together, said Lambrecht in Berlin at a top meeting with the manufacturers. It is also about the training of the soldiers. “The troops would like to continue to hold on to the Puma,” said Lambrecht.
During a shooting exercise, all 18 infantry fighting vehicles deployed failed. 17 of the tanks have now been repaired. According to earlier information from the Ministry of Defence, a damage analysis mainly revealed minor and medium-sized damage. However, Lambrecht has put the purchase of further Puma tanks and their use for the NATO Rapid Reaction Force (VJTF) on hold for the time being.
“The best armored personnel carrier in the world”
Lambrecht now met General Inspector Eberhard Zorn and the boss of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), Ralf Ketzel, and Rheinmetall boss Armin Papperger. “We firmly believe that the Puma is a state-of-the-art and the best armored personnel carrier in the world,” said Papperger. Ketzel reiterated that the industry was surprised by the reports of the outages. His company is convinced of the infantry fighting vehicle and its capabilities. Ketzel spoke of groundbreaking innovations.
Lambrecht defended the decision to have put further purchases of Puma and participation in the rapid reaction force on hold. Anything else would have been irresponsible after the failures became known. She will stick to the decisions until the concerns about the Puma have been dispelled. “We need a reliable system,” she said. Lambrecht spoke of homework that the industry would have to do when constructing the vehicle and the Bundeswehr would have to do when training its soldiers. This homework would now be done together and very quickly.
However, it remained unclear what exactly and in detail went wrong during the shooting practice. Inspector General Zorn said that Heer had an urgent need to operate the Puma. This is central to the “sustainability” of the land forces. He announced that the logistical concept for operating the weapon system would be revised. Zorn: “The Puma has a clear future with us in the Bundeswehr.”
Union faction vice Johann Wadephul accused Lambrecht of having misjudged the situation after the Puma breakdowns became known. “She immediately blamed the industry completely, and she even questioned the Puma weapon system, which is indeed complex (…),” said the CDU politician to the TV station Welt. This questioning was “completely irresponsible in hindsight and shows once again that Ms. Lambrecht is overwhelmed at this point”.
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