July 13 (UPI) -- German army Puma infantry fighting vehicles are to receive expanded capabilities and equipment from the Rheinmetall Group, the company announced on Thursday.
The comprehensive expansion package given by the Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support has a gross value of about $297.5 million, including value added tax.
Funds in the amount of about $124.6 million, including tax, have already been allocated for optional retrofitting, Rheinmetall said.
As a member of the consortium that produces the vehicle, Rheinmetall's share of the overall order will be about $131.6 million.
The expansion deal includes development of a new turret-independent secondary weapon system, installation of advanced visualization and display technology, and new training resources.
The turret-independent secondary weapon system, remotely controlled from the vehicle's rear fighting compartment, is for tackling threats at very close quarters without having to use the main armament. It will fire 40mm ammunition and has a maximum 400-yard range.
"The new order includes sample integration, readying the system for full-scale production and fabrication of three TSWA prototypes," the company said in a news release. "The actual serial production order, in which the entire Puma fleet will be retrofitted with the weapon system, is expected to come in 2023."
Other upgrades include changing the Puma's current black-and-white monitor and accompanying optics to color displays and adding an infrared searchlight to the rear of the vehicle.
The Puma carries nine troops. It is currently being introduced into the German army with 350 vehicles scheduled for delivery by 2020.