Iveco has been designing, developing and building military vehicles since founded in 1975 out of Turin, Italy. When the Italian Army required a new multi-role, multi-wheeled armored vehicle to keep pace on the modern battlefields with its 8x8 wheeled "Centauro" tank-killers (detailed elsewhere on this site), the company set about creating an all-new wheeled design. The first pilot vehicle was readied in 1988 and the stock grew to five before the end of 1990. From there, the Italian Army commissioned for a stock of six "special-mission" vehicles (mortar carriers, ATGM platform, etc...) for additional evaluation and ultimately awarded Iveco the long-sought contract for 540 total Pumas in 1999 - these to come in 240 4x4 wheeled forms and 300 6x6 wheeled forms.
Pumas have been in operation since 2001 and were manufactured under the Iveco-OTO-Melara brand label. Production ran from 2001 until 2004 and operators grew to include Argentina, Djibouti and Libya.
The vehicle sports an 8-ton weight and has an overall length of 5 meters with a beam of 2 meters and a height of 1.67 meters. The operating crew numbers two with room for four passengers. Armament is versatile, running the gamut of pintle-mounted 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns as well as a 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) over the hull roof. A Remote Weapon Station (RWS) can take the place of the manned position. Smoke grenade launchers are carried for a self-screening effect. Drive power is from an Iveco 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine unit outputting 160 horsepower. This is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission system offering the vehicle a road speed of 110 kmh with an operational range out to 700 kilometers.
Internally, the vehicle mounts the powerpack to the front-right. This moves the driver to the front-left of the hull. The passenger area is therefore set to the rear of the hull with entry points had at both sides and the rear of said hull. Access hatches are also provided along the hull roof line. The driver has his own roof hatch and the vehicle commander (seated directly aft of the driver) manages his own hatch as well.
As mentioned, there are two distinct wheel bases for the Puma - a 4x4 and a 6x6 model form. The latter sees an increase to the hull length and the addition of another axle / wheel pair. This model looks more the part of Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) whereas the 4x4 form appears very much like an armored car. The two forms share the same automotive components which allows for streamlined logistics in supporting both products.
The Argentina Army acquired a pair of Puma vehicles for peacekeeper training and Djibouti followed with three units all their own. The Libyan National Army (Libya being a former Italian colony) received twenty Pumas (4x4 wheeled forms) directly from the Italian Army to strengthen its ranks against internal threats following the removal of Muammar Gaddafi from power in the 2011 uprising.
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