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German engineering has always been lauded as top-notch. Be it the Tiger tank of World War Two, or today’s Leopard 2 main battle tank, there’s just something about German big cats. Meet the new and aptly-named Lynx infantry fighting vehicle.
The German industrial giant Rheinmetall announced a defense deal with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member Hungary earlier last week. The €2 billion deal is for the company’s armored personnel carrier, the Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicle, and several of the company’s Buffalo armored recovery vehicles.
Rheinmetall offers the Lynx in two main variants, the larger KF41, which has adequate onboard space for nine fully equipped soldiers, plus the IFV’s three crew members. The smaller KF31 has similar capabilities and can transport six soldiers plus crew members. In addition, the Lynx is “future-proof” and modular. Mission kits allow the base chassis to be configured as an IFV, an ambulance, a command vehicle, armored reconnaissance, or as a recovery vehicle.
All of the variants feature a steely-sloped hull top, which the German firm claims offers protection from anti-tank guided weapons, rocket propelled grenades, artillery splinters, and additional roof protection from cluster munitions.
Although the larger of the two Lynx variants weighs a hefty forty-four tons, its 1,140 horsepower Liebherr engine gives the platform a respectable 26hp/ton. The main gun fires a quite large 35x228mm shell, giving the platform excellent penetration against up-armored targets, though performance against main battle tanks may be more limited. One interesting Lynx feature are the two mission “pods” on either side of the turret that can be equipped with a variety of weapon systems that give the vehicle a more specialized capability.
Despite Rheinmetall’s decent looking design, the Army didn’t like the IFV design—for a really silly reason.
The American Connection
Rheinmetall offered the Lynx to the U.S. Army’ Next-Generation Combat Vehicle program, an initiative that seeks to replace the Amy’s aging Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle. On paper at least the Lynx seemed like a good fit—its main gun is very large compared to the Bradley’s more modest 25-millimeter gun, and the standard Lynx would have been better equipped to power newer on-board electronics.
Several companies that were in the running for the Army’s NGCV contract, but had asked the Army for timetable extensions, with Rheinmetall reportedly asking for an additional few weeks. In Rheinmetall’s case, the extension request did not ask for additional time related to platform design and production—rather the German firm’s simply needed more time to secure the proper transport approval from local authorities. Their request was denied, and the Lynx was disqualified from the program.
Interestingly, Australia is also looking to replace their aging Bradleys. One of the two finalists? Rheinmetall’s Lynx. The Army initiative is now called the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle. Though the name may be different, it might behoove the Army to give the Lynx another look. Watch this topic closely for additional information in the future.
Caleb Larson is a Defense Writer with The National Interest. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.