Exercises involving the Puma armored vehicle were reportedly “a total failure”
Germany’s Puma armored infantry fighting vehicles, which had been expected to join the NATO rapid-response force, have completely failed during training exercises, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Saturday, citing a Bundeswehr internal document.
The publication cited a letter from Major General Ruprecht von Butler, commander of the 10th Armored Division, which said that all of the 18 vehicles that participated in the exercise had become inoperable. He described their performance as “a total failure.”
The electronics were said to have been prone to problems, while one vehicle experienced a fire in the driver’s compartment.
Von Butler reportedly wrote that the last two operational Pumas eventually broke down “after an hour and a half, with turret defects.”
The defects have “never occurred with such frequency,” the commanding general was quoted as saying. He added that the Puma’s performance “becomes a lottery, despite all necessary preparations,” which is “especially stressful for the troops.”
According to Der Spiegel, the Puma was expected to be deployed next year as part of NATO’s rapid-response force. However, von Butler was cited as saying that it would be unavailable for three to four months. It would be replaced by older Marder infantry fighting vehicles “until further notice,” he reportedly wrote, adding that authorities would do everything to restore the Puma’s combat readiness.
Due to its numerous problems, the Puma armored vehicle was previously dubbed ‘Pannenpanzer,’ or ‘breakdown tank,’ by German media.
The news follows multiple reports about shortages of weapons and ammunition in the Bundeswehr, as Berlin continues to send arms to Ukraine for that country’s conflict with Russia.
Der Spiegel had earlier reported that Germany does not have enough artillery and air-defense systems to contribute to NATO’s battalion-sized multinational unit, stationed in Lithuania.
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