The "Puma" Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier is intended to be used in complement with the V-1 "Centauro" Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle in Italian Army mechanized brigades. "Puma" was developed by "Iveco-Fiat" and OTO "Breda" consortiums. First vehicle test example was built in 1988 and till the middle of 1990 there were built four more vehicles. Furthermore together with base modifications of Armored Personnel Carrier there were built modifications necessary for infantry fire support in the battlefield, such as Anti-tank Guided Missile Carriers "Tow" and "Milan", Anti-aircraft vehicle "Mistral", Self-propelled 81-mm Mortar, and Armored Ambulance Vehicle. "Puma" Armored Personnel Carrier has "6634G" producers indexation. The vehicles are air and sea transportable.
Vehicles design was chosen considering it's possible multipurpose usage: engine-transmission and driving compartments are placed in the frontal part while the middle and the rear space can be used depending from vehicles purpose. In Armored Personnel Carriers variant the rear and the middle parts are built as landing and combat compartments.
"Puma" has a welded full-closed hull. Furthermore it is made using new technology. The matter is that hull's parts that have vertical angles are not welded together like in other combat vehicles, but are made by cambering it from one armor plate. Such method decreased a number of potentially weak places such as welding seams. Armor provides protection against small arms bullets and shell fragments. Furthermore this technology gave vehicle quiet attractive external look which is quiet important offering Armored Personnel Carrier in the world arms markets.
Personnel Carrier has doors from the both sides of the hull and in the rear armor plate. Hulls roof has three hatches intended: over the driving compartment, commander's turret, and landing compartment.
The driver's seat is placed on the left hand side of the vehicle. The driver has three periscope sights. The center periscope is a passive night vision periscope. Vehicle's commander uses five periscope sights which give 360 degree vision.
In Armored Personnel Carrier's variant "Puma" has a quiet weak armament consisting from 7.62-mm or 12.7-mm machine gun placed over the commanders turret in the middle side of the hull. However vehicles fire power is increased by infantrymen ability to fire from the inside of the Carrier threw the three lids built in every door (two lids from the each side and one rear). "Puma" has smoke grenade launchers mounted to the either side of the boards in the rear part.
"Puma" is powered by "Iveco" 8042.5 4-cylinder diesel engine reaching 180 horsepower under 3 000 rounds per minute. Transmission is hydromechanic, fitted with automatic gearbox. It is manufactured German "Renk" company license. It provides 4 forward and one backward gears. The engine compartment is fitted with a fire detection and extinguishing system.
Chassis is built on 4 x 4 wheel formula with the first steering axle. Independent hydro pneumatic suspension provides good absorbing on cross-country terrain.
"Michelin" company developed a low-profile tyres specially for "Puma" Armored Personnel Carrier. It allow vehicle to keep moving even when tyres are pierced by some bullets or shell splinters. On the road "Puma" reaches a maximum speed of 105 km/h. It has high cross-country performances as well.
Vehicle can be fitted with Nuclear Biological Chemical protection, fire protection system, air conditioner and two radio sets.
In addition to 4 x 4 wheel formula there was developed Armored Personnel Carrier's variant with 6 x 6 wheel formula and longer hull. In such vehicles landing compartment there can be placed 8 fully equipped infantrymen. 6 x 6 vehicles version has the first the and second steering axles.
Both "Puma's" variants can be used as a base for a various purpose vehicles:
"Tow" or "Milan" Anti-tank Guided Missile Carrier;
"Mistral" Anti-aircraft Guided Missile Carrier;
Self-propelled 81-mm Mortar;
Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle;
Armored Command Post;
Radiation and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle;
Armored Ambulance Carrier.
At the end of 1999, the Italian Army ordered 580 Puma vehicles: 330 of the 4 x 4 and 250 of the 6 x 6 configuration. Deliveries were planned from 2001 to 2004.
Defense Ministry of the United Kingdom also showed interest to obtain a number of such vehicles.