Saturday, August 26, 2017

Which new IFV for the Czech Army?

According to Jane's IHS, the Czech Army is actively looking for a replacement of the aging Soviet-made BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). Therefore a number of companies has been expected to bid for the contract to deliver a total of 200 new vehicles to the Czech Republic. A number of competitors has shown vehicles at the IEDT 2017 exhibition in Brno (also known as Brünn in the German speaking countries), four vehicles were later photographed during Czech Army trials. The decision on which vehicle to adopt might affect other international tenders such as the Australian LAND 400 phase 3 program.

The CV9030 CZ r (left) and the CV9030
BAE Systems has already presented a version of the Combat Vehicle 90 (CV90) IFV for the Czech Republic more than a year ago. Back then the so called CV9030CZ was nothing but the latest upgraded version of the CV90 for the Norwegian Army; while officially known to be a CV90 Mark III model, BAE Systems also referes to this latest baseline vehicle as a fifth-generation Combat Vehicle 90. The CV90 is manned by a crew of three and can transport up to eight dismounts; however most users (including all operators of the CV90 Mark III model) have used some of the internal space to transport equipment or ammo, limiting the troop transport capacity to only seven men.
A more advanced vehicle was presented at the IDET 2017 in Brno. The new CV9030CZ is also based on the current Norwegian model and has been fitted with a number of new features unique to this specific CV90 model. These include a new panoramic sight for the commander, which enables the crew to operate in a true hunter/killer mode; the previous commander's sight was fixed and thus had only a limited coverage of the azimuth. The gunner is still provided with the SAAB-made UTAAS sight.
A dual-launcher for the Spike-LR anti-tank guided missiles has been fitted to an external container on the right side of the turret. It can be fully retracted inside the container and appears to be very similar, if not identical, to the missile launcher used on Rafael's Samson Mk 2 remotely operated weapon station (RWS). The secondary armament was moved; on the vehicle presented at IDET, it consists of a Mk 52 chain gun chambered in the 7.62 mm NATO calibre, which is made by Alliant Techsystems (ATK). Removing the original coaxial machine gun frees up space for the commander's working station. Like most other vehicles demonstrated at IEDT, the main armament consists of a 30 mm Bushmaster II from ATK. A total of 160 rounds of 30 x 173 mm ammunition are loaded into the gun's dual-belt feeding system, while a further 240 rounds can be stored inside the vehicle for restocking it.

CV9030 CZ during trials: note that the Iron Fist APS has been removed!
The version presented at IDET 2017 is protected by AMAP ceramic composite armor from the German company IBD Deisenroth. It is expected to offer a high level of protection, according to BAE Systems it meets the STANAG 4569 level 6 requirement for protection against kinetic energy ammunition and STANAG 4569 level 4 against anti-vehicle mines. Previous production models offered at most level 3 protection against anti-vehicle mines (8 kg TNT charge instead of 10 kg) and a kinetic energy protection level above STANAG 4569 level 5, but below level 6.
Additional armor protection against shaped charge weapons has been offered by IBD Deisenroth (like the AMAP-X armor of the Swedish Strf 9040C) and Rafael, but this has not been fitted to the demonstrator vehicle offer to the Czech Republic. However two dual-barreled launchers for the Iron Fist Light Configuration hardkill active protection system (APS), a scaled down version of the Iron Fist APS, have been fitted to the turret. This APS uses radar antennas to track incoming ATGMs and RPGs, which then are engaged using high-explosive blast grenades.
Other CV90 models make use of different armor types. The original Norwegian and Finish CV90s were fitted with the older MEXAS armor, while Dutch CV9035 Mk III vehicles are fitted with an armor package made by RUAG, which is including MinePRO, SidePRO and RoofPRO products. Danish vehicles are believed to user a further armor package, apparently made by Tencate.

CV9030 CZ at IDET: note the udal missile launcher and the Iron Fist APS
The vehicle is fitted with rubber band tracks, that are qualified for a relatively low maximum weight of 35 metric tons, a figure which has also been quoted as the total maximum weight of the CV90 in documents from BAE Systems. The payload capacity of the current fifth generation CV90 is limited to 16 metric tons, an increase compared to earlier variants. This weight has to be used for mission specific components and packages, such as a the turret and armament, the armor package, the seats in for the dismounts, the active protection system and various other components.
While each successive generation of the CV90 has become heavier and larger by raising the roof and lengthening rear compartment, the overall useable weight and volume is still more limited compared to the other contenders. The ASCOD 2 for example has a payload capacity of 19 metric tons, three more than the CV90. The Puma IFV and Lynx KF41 seem to offer even more payload.
The Combat Vehicle 90 can be fitted with different diesel engines made by Scania. The latest version has a 810 horsepowers output, which would result in a power to weight ratio of 17 kW/t (23 hp/t), the same power to weight ratio as found on all earlier CV90 models, providing decent off-road mobility. The CV90 can accelerate to a speed of 50 km/h in 15 seconds and has a maximum forward speed of 70 km/h. The maximum reverse speed is only 40 km/h. It can cross 2.6 metres wide trenches and climb one metres high steps. It can ford through 1 metre deep rivers without preperation and 1.5 metres deep rivers after a 3 minute long preperation phase. The CV90 can climb slopes up to 30° and drive along side slopes up to 26°.

The CV9030 CZ r has a raised hull roof and an unmanned Kongsberg turret
A further variant known as CV9030 CZ r, a Combat Vehicle 90 with a raised hull roof at the turret ring, that has been fitted with the unmanned  Kongsberg Protector Medium Caliber Turret 30 (MCT-30). The gunner and commander are now seated in the raised section of the hull and their stations have received vision blocks and hatches. The MCT-30 turret is fitted with ATK's 30 mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II chain gun as main armament and a partially exposed FN MAG 7.62 mm machine gun as secondary armament. There are 150 rounds of main gun ammo (in two groups of 75 rounds) in the linkless dual feed system, while up to 600 of the MG's 7.62 mm bullets can be stored in the turret. Thanks to a hatch in the turret bottom, the ammunition can be reloaded under armor. The Mk 44 gun in the MCT-30 turret has a maximum elevation of 45° and a maximum gun depression of -10°.
The EOTS from the German manufacturer Hensoldt (originally designed by Carl-Zeiss, but the military optic segment was sold to Airbus Cassidian and then to Hensoldt) serves as the gunner's sight. It is fitted with an eyesafe laser rangefinder, a CCD zoom camera and a third generation ATTICA thermal imager. The CCD camera's sensor has a resolution of 752 by 576 pixels and can switch between three zoom stages: two times for a field of view (FoV) of 21.6° by 16.2°, four times (8° x 6°) and sixteen times magnification, the latter resulting in a field of view of 2.6° x 1.95°. The ATTICA thermal imager is available with the same magnification levels and FoVs, but with two different detectors options. The long-wave version, operating at a wavelength of 7.5 μm to 10 μm, has a 384 by 288 detector, while the mid-wave version (3 μm to 5 μm) has a larger detector resolution of 640 x 512. The effective resolution of both variants is higher thanks to the implementation of a 2x2 micro-scan. This means, the sensor is actively being moved by a small amount, two successive frames will be combined into one single output image, essentially doubling the effective resolution. Micro-scanning allows to keep the sensor size (and thus the thermal imager) compact, while providing higher quality output data. In case of the German Puma, the EOTS is fitted with a LDM 38 laser rangefinder with a range of up to 40,000 metres and an accuracy of ±5 metres - it seems likely that the same laser rangefinder is also used in this EOTS model. On top of the turret, a panoramic sight is fitted, which might be a version of Safran's Paseo - this information has yet to be confirmed.
The Kongsberg Protector MCT-30 turret has recently been adopted by the US Army on a number of upgraded Stryker ICV known as the XM1296 Dragoon, but is then fitted with a different set of optics and different secondary armament.

The Kongsberg MCT-30 turret is fitted with applique armnor and the EOTS sight
The MCT-30's basic armor meets the STANAG 4569 level 1 requirements; however the turret on the CV9030 CZ r is fitted with bolted-on applique armor and thus has a higher protection level. Unfortunately the turret - just like the Samson Mk 2 RWS - cannot be armored to the same degree as the hull. According to data from the manufacturing company, Kongsberg, the maximum protection is limited to STANAG 4569 level 4, which is understood to be shown on the CV9030 CR's turret. This means that a hit to the turret by a weapon incapable of penetrating the hull armor can easily lead to a firepower kill or a mission kill. Four dual-banks of smoke grenade launchers improve the vehicle's chances to evade enemy fire.

The ASCOD 2 fitted with the Samson Mark II RWS
General Dynamics European Land Systems has already provided the Czech Army with the Pandur II wheeled 8x8 infantry fighting vehicle, which is armed with a Samson Mk 1 RWS fitted with the Mk 44 Bushmaster II gun and Spike-LR missiles. For the BMP-2 replacement, the company is offering it's latest ASCOD 2 design with an unmanned turret. The configuration presented at IDET 2017 in Brno is based on the experiences from making the British Scout-SV Ajax vehicle and fitted with advanced applique armor; however the vehicle is not based on the exact same version of the chassis, being fitted with rubber band tracks and thus being incapable of handling the full 42 metric tons of maximum gross vehicle weight. Most likely this would limited the ASCOD 2 to 38 metric or less. Bolted-on applique armor covers the hull and turret. The side armor at the upper portion of the hull is extremely thick; it is understood to be spaced armor, which in case of the British Ajax is being used to store ammunition and/or fuel. This would enhance the crew survivability in case of an armor penetration. However there have been unconfirmed speculations that the side armor is actually a type composite armor protecting against shaped charge weapons such as RPGs - if true, it should be noted that the lower section of the hull remains exposed and vulnerable. Speaking  against this is however the fact, that the hull frontal armor seems to have the same thickess as other ASCOD 2 variants lacking the thick side armor.

Thick applique armor protects sides and front of the vehicle
The ASCOD 2 is believed to feature a very high level of mine and ballistic protection - it is estimated that the hull armor meets the STANAG 4569 level 6 standard for ballistic protection and full level 4/4a mine protection. The armor supplier is unknoown, however some of the armor of the Ajax is manufactured by RUAG. Some armor elements might be supplied by Rafael Systems, the company which already provided the RWS and the applique armor for the Czech Pandur II IFVs.
Most likely the ASOCD 2 is fitted with a MTU 8V 199 TE20 engine coupled to a Renk HSWL 256 transmission. This combination provides a 600 kW (805 horsepower) output and was recently chosen by the British Army for the Scout-SV Ajax, a variant of the ASCOD 2. It can accelerate from 0 to 50 km/h in 14 seconds and has a maximum speed of 70 km/h. The turning diameter of the ASCOD 2 is only 9.5 metres. The vehicle has the ability to ford through 1.2 metres eep water and can drive at side slopes up to 30°. It can climb slopes up to 30° slope and climb a 0.75 metre high vertical onstacle and drive over 2 metres wide ditches.

The larger ASCOD 2 offers greater payload than the CV90
The ASCOD 2 proposal relies on using the Samson Mk 2 remotely controlled weapon station as unmanned turret. It is armed with an ATK Mk 44 Bushmaster II chain gun, chambered in the 30 x 173 mm calibre. Alternatively this gun could be fitted with a larger barrel to fire the slightly more powerful Super 40 ammunition. Additionally the Samson Mk 2 RWS is featuring a coaxial machine gun and a retractable dual-launcher for the Spike-LR fire & forget ATGM.
Two separate sets of dual-axis stabilized MiniPOP optics from Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) allow the turret to be used for hunter/killer operations. The MiniPOP sight includes a CCD color camera, a laser rangefinder and a thermal imager - depending on variant the thermal imager has a 320 by 240 or a 480 by 384 detector array operating at a wavelength of 3 to 5 µm. The daysight camera offers a continuous zoom ranging from a FoV of 1.6 to 42°; likewise the thermal imager can continuous adjust the field of view from 2 to 22°.
The MiniPOP is also used on the wheeled 8x8 Pandur II IFV of the Czech Army, thus chosing the offer from General Dynamics could reduce logistic costs.

The Samson Mark 2 RWS features a dual-launcher for the Spike-LR ATGM
The Samson Mk 2 RWS has a weight of 1.5 metric tons in it's lightest configuration. Like the Kongsberg MCT-30 unmanned turret, it has a hatch in the floor to allow restocking the ammunition without leaving the vehicle. The main gun ammo is limited to 200 rounds, while the coaxial machine gun has only 230 rounds ready-to-fire. In theory the turret allows the gun to be depressed by up to -20° and elevated up to 70°, but in reality the values are expected to be lower.
The basic armor of the Samson Mk 2 unmanned turret provides STANAG 4569 level 1 protection only, but it can be enhanced to level 4 by adding applique armor. This means that - like the CV9030CZ r - a hit by a 20-30 mm gun, that would be incapable of penetrating the hull, can disable the vehicle by being a firepower kill or a mission kill.

The Lynx IFV with rubber band tracks being tested in the Czech Republic
Rheinmetall is offering its Lynx infantry fighting vehicle to the Czech Army.  The new IFV - first presented at the Eurosatory 2016 - is a big mystery candidate. The Lynx's design has undeniable similarities to the old Marder IFV, such as the general shape, the location of the driver's hatch and the noticable bulge to accommodate the turret ring in the upper front plate of the hull. The German company however claims that the Lynx is a new development, so they might have based on the Lynx on the same basic design as the Marder IFV to save time and costs, but manufactured the Lynx as a completely new vehicle rather than upgrading an existing Marder. However they might just as well have used a different definition for a "new development". It is known that Rheinmetall purchased a large number of former German Army Marders a few years ago.

The Lynx IFV was first presented on the Eurosatory 2016 exhibition in Paris
The Lynx IFV has a crew of three (commander, driver and gunner) and can transport either six or eight dismounts, depending on the exact variant. It is fitted with composite armor to achieve protection against medium calibre ammunition and artillery bomblets. Its belly plate can be fitted with an anti-mine plating kit in order to resist mines and IEDs. The company has not disclosed the exact type of armor or the possible level of protection, but Rheinmetall is manufacturing different armor solutions such as the company's own VERHA armor and the AMAP armor of the German design bureau IBD Deisenroth.
It is expected that the Lynx achieves a very high level of protection based on its weight and dimensions. The Marder 1A5 already exceeds STANAG 4569 level 5 ballistic protection and meets the level 3 standard for mine protection; the Lynx IFV, being fitted with more weight efficient composite armor and having a greater weight, is expected to be better protected than what is assumed to be its older relative. The shorter Lynx KF31 chassis can support up to 38 metric tons, while the stretched KF41 has a four metric tons higher limit (44 metric tons). Unlike some of the other contenders, it has always been fitted with an anti-bomblet protection on the roof when showcased.

The Lynx is fitted with a dampened dual-launcher for the Spike-LR ATGM
The Lynx IFV was presented at the IDET 2017 in Brno in apparently the same configuration as on the Eurosatory 2016. This means it featured a two-men Lance manned turret with a gas-operated Mauser MK 30-2/ABM main gun, which is chambered in the 30 x 173 mm calibre and can fire air-programmable ammunition. Up to 200 rounds of main gun ammo can be stored in the turret, the same gun is also found on the Puma IFV. The secondary armament of the Lynx consists of a 5.56 mm or 7.62 mm machine gun mounted in an external container. Furthermore a dual-launcher for Spike-LR ATGMs provides enhanced anti-tank and anti-helicopter capabilities; unlike the launcher found on the Samson Mk 2 RWS, the Lynx's system is dampened, allowing to store the missiles for a longer time without the vibration of the vehicle weakening the electronics of the ATGMs and increasing the likelihood of malfunctions.
Both the commander and the gunner are provided with on SEOSS sight each, which includes a third-generation Saphir thermal imager, a daysight camera and an eyesafe laser-rangefinder. This enables the crew to operate in the hunter/killer and killer/killer modes. Two units of the SAS situational awareness system provide all-round vision with an automatic movement tracking function, while a number of 40 mm ROSY_MOD smoke grenade launchers enhance the self-protection.

The rear compartment of the vehicle is fitted with enhanced roof armor to protect against bomblets
The Rheinmetall Lynx is depending on variant fitted with a 750 hp or 1,050 hp engine made by the German company ‎Liebherr, leading to a top speed of 65 km/h and 70 km/h respectively. The running gear consists of six pair of roadwheels, which are connected to a torsion bar suspsension. The Lynx has been fitted with rubber band tracks, although light-weight steel tracks are also offered as an option. Unlike the rubber band tracks from Soucy Defense, which are used on the ASCOD 2 and the CV9030CZ, the Lynx's rubber band tracks are made by DST and have a segmenented design, allowing faster maintenance and repair of damaged track sections.
The vehicle can climb over one metre high obstacles and ford through bodies of water with a depth of up to 1.5 metres. It can climb slopes up tp 30° and can drive along side slopes of more than 30°. The Lynx can cross 2.5 metres wide ditches.

The manned Lance turret is operated by a crew of two. Gunner and commander have their own SEOSS optics.
A spokesman from the company highlighted the ability and willingness to modify the design according to the user's needs. The Lynx can not only be fitted with a 30 mm or a 35 mm Wotan chain gun, but it is also capable of accepting a wide range of other weapon systems. The KF41 version with elongated chassis can even accept a turret with 120 mm smoothbore gun to serve as a light/medium tank. Likewise multiple different armor packages can be installed on the Lynx, depending on the required level of protection. The Lance turret is available in a two-men configuration or as unmanned Lance RC turret. Rheinmetall is also willing to integrate any third-party technology in the vehicle, if desired by a customer.

The Lynx is a modular design, consisting of a baseline vehicle and a mission kit. Unlike true modular vehilces like the canceled SEP and the Boxer, the mission kit has to be installed at the factory and cannot be exchanged without major work. The baseline vehicle consists of the hull including drivetrain and powerpack aswell as the ballistic protection elements of the hull. The mission kit includes its own roof section, thus allowing to adopt a turret, a rasied roof configuration or a crane for an engineering variant with ease.
A number of further options for the Lynx IFV have been mentioned by the manufacturer. Like the Boxer CRV, the Lynx can be fitted with the main sensor slaved armament (MSSA), a RWS without optics slaved to the commander's SEOSS sight. The SAS can be supplemented by a laser-warning system and an accoustic sniper location system, increasing survivability and situational awareness. The ADS hardkill active protection system can be installed to defeat ATGMs and RPGs.

The Puma is tthe new IFV of the German Army
PSM, a joint-venture between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall, is offering the German Puma IFV to the Czech Republic. The Puma has entered service with the German Army in 2015, production to fullfill the first batch for it is still under way, while a second batch is expected to be ordered in the near future. The Puma is a high-tech IFV and therefore expected to be rather expensive. A crew of three (commander, driver and gunner) operates the vehicle, while six dismounts can be transported in the rear compartment.

The decoupled running gear reduces noise and enhances protection
The Puma is powered by a high-power density (HPD) MTU MT 892 multi-fuel/diesel engine coupled to a Renk HSWL 256 transmission, which provides an output of 800 kW (1072 hp) at up to 3,800 rpm. The MT 892 is one of the most efficient engine solutions - if not the most efficient - available for IFVs in terms of power per weight and power per volume. A 170 kW flywheel generator provides the vehicle's systems with electrical energy. The Puma is the first combat vehicle to enter service with a fully decoupled running gear and is the only vehicle offered to the Czech Army fitted with a hydropneumatic suspension. The decoupled running gear means that there is no penetration into the hull belly by the running gear, increasing the level of mine protection. PSM went even a step further by integrating all fuel tanks into the running gear elements - thus the fire hazard after armor penetration is reduced, which boosts crew survivability. Furthermore the running gear is connected to hull only via shock-absorbing fixings, which decreases the noise generation and vibrations. The ground clearance of the Puma hull is 450 mm.

The Puma's powerpack consists of a MT 892 engine and a HSWL 256 transmission
The Puma IFV has a top forward speed of more than 70 km/h and a reverse speed of up to 30 km/h. It uses light-weight steel tracks with a width of 500 mm rather than rubber band tracks, as the latter wouldn't be capable of handling the weight in the up-armored configuration. Due to the very powerfulm engine, the Puma has the highest power to weight ratio of all tested vehicles: 18.6 kW per metric ton (nearly 25 hp/ton) in the up-armored configuratiton and more than 25 kW per metric ton (34 hp/ton) in the basic variant. It can ford through 1.2 metres deep water without any preperation, climb more than 0.8 metres high steps and cross ditches with a width of 2.5 metres.
The 30 mm Mauser MK30-2/ABM gas-operated autocannon serves as main armament. It is a dual-belt fed gun with 200 ready to fire rounds; a further 200 rounds for reloading is stored inside the vehicle. This gun can fire Rheinmetall's 30 mm KETF air-burst ammunition, which is programmed using a magnetic coil. A 5.56 mm MG4 light machine gun from Heckler & Koch serves currently as coaxial armament, although it is expected to be replaced by a 7.62 mm general machine gun in the near future. The MG4 is provided with 1,000 bullets at the gun, a further 1,000 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition are stored in the hull for restocking.
Currently the Puma still lacks the two-barreled MELLS launcher for the EuroSpike (Spike-LR) ATGM and the turret-independent secondary weapon station (TSWA), a multi-barreled grenade launcher mounted on an extendable mast. Contractsfor these weapon systems have been made in 2017, though the final integration might last a few years. The Lynx uses a slightly downgraded version of the MELLS launcher. The TSWA was originally planned to contain up to six 76 mm lethal and non-lethal grenades, but was later extended by adding a ring with 24 smaller 40 mm grenades. According to the most recent informations, the 76 mm barrels were replaced by a total of nine 40 mm grenade barrels on the latest designs. The TSWA is fitted with its own set of optics and can be operated by the dismounts, allowing the Puma to engage multiple targets simultaneously.

The secondary armament includes an independent grenade launcher at the rear of the vehicle.
With a weight of up to 43 metric tons, the Puma is heavily armored. Unlike the ASCOD and CV90, where composite armor was an afterthought, the new German Army IFV was designed for the usage of composite armor from the beginning and therefore specifically optimized for it. As a result of this, the Puma's hull is made using the Dünnblechbiegetechnologie (thin plate bending technology), where thin structural steel plates are used to form the base sturcture of the vehicle, rather than welding together several thicker armor steel plates. Given that ceramic armor can provide up to five times as much protectiton as steel, reducing the thickness of the steel structure allows to increase the protection while staying at the same weight. Furthermore bending the plates rather than welding them together reduces weakspots.
The Puma's protection follows a modular concept. In the basic variant, which is about eleven tons lighter than the fully protected model, the hull provides full mine protection (exceeding STANAG 4569 level 4) and frontal protection against RPGs, EFPs and medium calibre ammunition. The frontal protection is listed by Rheinmetall as "greater than 30 mm APFSDS" and therefore is understood to exceed the STANAG 4569 level 6 requirement. In this basic configuration, known as "protection level A", the hull sides, rear and the unmanned turret are fitted with a lighter armor package, offering protection against 14.5 mm AP ammunition only.

The Puma is designed with a modular armor package
When fitted with the "protection level C", the armor of the Puma provides all-round protection against 30 mm APFSDS ammunition (or larger), explosively formed penetratiors (EFPs) and RPGs. The protection level against KE ammunition is also achieved on the turret, preventing a firepower kill or mission kill by an AP(FS)DS round incapable of penetrating the hull (unlike the case on the CV9030 CZ r and the ASCOD 2). The roof armor is fitted with plates made of composite materials and protects against bomblets and artillery submunitions, including those types fitted with a shaped charge warhead.

Puma IFV with armor only partially mounted
To achieve the high level of protection multiple different armor solutions are combined into one package: the AMAP-B and AMAP-SC armor types from IBD Deisenroth provide protection against kinetic energy ammunition and shaped charges. According to figures provided by the company that designed this armor, AMAP-B provides up to five times as much protection per weight as steel armor against armor-piercing types of ammunition (APFSDS, APDS, FAPDS, AP, etc.). The latest version of AMAP-B utilizes nano-ceramics and therefore is capable of reducing the armor thickness in some cases; then it is possible to provide the same level of protection as an about twice as thick steel plate; traditionally ceramic armor has always been thicker or about as thick as steel armor of the same protection level, gaining the higher mass efficiency due to the low density of ceramic materials. 
AMAP-SC is understood to be a type of NERA or NxRA, which provides eight to ten times as much protection per weight as steel armor against shaped charge warheads.
Parts of the side armor of the Puma make use of the HL-Schutz Rad/Kette (formerly CLARA) explosive reactive armor (ERA) from Dynamit Nobel Defence. Unlike other types of ERA, HL-Schutz Rad/Kette doesn't use metal as part of the flyer plates, making it safe for use on armored personnel carriers, IFVs, and patrol vehicles. According to the manufacturer, HL-Schutz Rad/Kette provides more than ten times as much protection as "conventional armor" (understood to be steel armor) against shaped charges. Depending on version the HL-Schutz armor modules include an additional armor plate against medium calibre ammunition such as 14.5 mm AP rounds. The exact composition of HL-Schutz Rad/Kette is secret, but patents from the manufacturer mention rubber, fibre-composite, plastics and ceramics as possible materials for the composite flyer plates of the ERA.

RoofPRO armor can protect against DPICM bomblets with a penetration of more than four inches into steel
The hull bottom and the roof sections of hull and turret are fitted with MinePRO and RoofPRO composite armor from GEKE Schutztechnik and Swiss manufacturer RUAG. The roof armor exists in a heavy RoofPRO-P version with an areal density of 43 kg/m², aswell as a lighter RoofPRO-PL version with an areal denstiy of only 28 kg/m². It is understood that the up-armored Puma uses a variant of the heavier RoofPRO-P, including pads of rubber-spikes to disrupt the formation of shaped charge jets from artillery sub-munitions.
In order to deal with anti-tank guided missiles, the Puma is fitted with Hensoldt's Multifunctional Self Protection System (MUSS) softkill active protection system. MUSS uses combined laser warning and optical tracking sensors to detect incoming ATGMs. The system then utilizes an IR/UV jammer and multi-spectral smoke grenades (capable of absorbing lasers and hiding the thermal signature of the vehicle) to prevent the ATGM from hitting the vehicle. The British Army is testing MUSS as part of the MEDUSA program for adoption the Challenger 2 and other British armored fighting vehicles.

The EOTS is used in the Puma's WAO as the gunner's sight
The gunner of the Puma is provided with the EOTS sight from Hensoldt, i.e. the same optic as fitted to the Kongsberg MCT-30 offered on the CV9030 CZ r. The commander can independently search for targets using his PERI RTWL-B sight. Like the EOTS, the PERI RWTL-B includes a third generation ATTICA thermal imager with 384 by 288 detector elements (effective twice as much thanks to a 2x2 microscan) operating at a wavelength of 7.5 μm to 10 μm, and a LDM 38 eyesafe laser rangefinder with a maximum range of 40,000 metres. It offers the same magnification levels and FoVs as the EOTS. The PERI RTWL-B also includes a CCD camera and an optical sight, which transports the image via a fibre-optical channel to the commander. The advantage of an analog optical connection is a much higher resolution - according to the famous German lens manufacturer Zeiss, it offers an effective resolution of more than six megapixels - this is about fourteen times as much as the average military grade CCD camera!
For enhanced situational awareness, five cameras are mounted on the rear section of the hull; they can be accessed by all crew members and by two members of the infantry squad. The Puma is fitted with the Thales SOTAS-IP  digital communication system aswell as with the SOLAR 400 V radio.

The Puma has still to receive its missile launcher
Admittedly the Puma does not come without its problems. Aside of the huge price per vehicle, PSM has yet to release information on possible non-IFV variants; while the Czech Army has not announced the need for any recovery vehicles, light tanks or APC variants based on their future IFV hull, most other contenders such as the ASCOD 2, CV90 and Lynx have in the past showcased non-IFV versions in form of 3D CAD data or prototypes.
That said, the two companies responsible for developing the Puma, KMW and Rheinmetall, should have enough experience to design any desired future variant based on the Puma hull - in the end Rheinmetall should be able to adapt all the Lynx versions to the Puma's hull.
The integration of the MELLS missile launcher for EuroSpike, i.e. the Spike-LR ATGM, is still under way. Likewise the turret independent weapon station has yet to be adopted, but prototypes and integration of both weapon systems has been recently ordered by the German Army, after the budget was finally approved by the government. Furthermore the upgrade contract will include enhancements to the situational awareness in form of adopting Rheinmetall's situational awareness system (SAS) and new flatscreen displays.

While the previously mentioned four vehicles have been photographed during testing, there was a larger number of vehicles speculated or rumored to be offered to the Czech Army. At IDET 2017, it was claimed that the Czech Army still had to release official requirements and hence it is still possible that a larger number of contenders might be considered. It is not known (at the time of writing this passage) if the situation has changed. 
Depending on how much local industry involvment, costs and capabilities are rated, a number of other vehicles still could make the run against the four big IFVs offered by BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Rheinmetall and PSM.

The BMP-MECXA aka Šakal is an upgrade of the BMP-2
In theory the cheapest option to replace the BMP-2 would be an upgraded variant thereof. In the first moment that might sound odd, but in general the state of the Czech BMP-2s is quite bad, not having been modernized by any noteworthy degree.
The Czech company Excalibur Army spol. s ro has developed the Šakal IFV in cooperation with other Czech and Slovakian companies. The vehicle was originally known as the BMP-M2 or BVP-M2 SKCZ and developed mainly for the export market, however video footage shows that it has taken part in various Czech military exercises and apparently was tested by the Czech ministry of defence. Recently the vehicle has been marketed as the BMP-MEXCA.

Additional slat armor and passive armor can boost the ballistic protection to STANAG 4569 level 4
The biggest drawback of this vehicle is the low level of armor protection; its welded steel hull and spaced applique armor provides ballistic protection equivalent to STANAG 4569 level 4 at the frontal arc - this means it is at least protected against 14.5 mm B32 armor-piercing ammunition fired from a range of 200 metres, but not against larger threats such as 25 mm  and 30 mm AP(FS)DS ammunition. The side armor is protected according to STANAG 4569 level 3 only, being designed to resist 7.62 x 51 mm tungsten-cored rounds form a 30 metres distance. In general armor protection is not much better than on the original BMP-1 and BMP-2. Mine protection is limited to STANAG 4569 level 1 for the hull belly and level 2a under the tracks. However it seems very likely that, despite the limited growth potential of the old BMP-2 components, a better protected variant of Šakal could be made. Excalibur Army had developed an upgrade for the MGC-14.5 armored personnel carrier (APC) prototype a few years ago, which enhanced the protection level well beyond the Šakal/BMP-MEXCA. This vehicle had passive armor to meet the requirements of STANAG 4569 level 4 for ballistic protection, while the mine protection plate and decoupled seats meet the level 2 requirements. A combination of slat armor, reactive armor (covering the small turret) and APS (covering the rear door) provide all around protection agianst simple RPGs such as the most basic RPG-7 rounds (i.e. PG-7, PG-7M and PG-7V). Such a vehicle was offered by Exicalbur Army as the BMP-M1 CZ.
The German armor design bureau IBD Deisenroth once offered to adapt its IFV Evolution concept to Greek BMPs. This survivability concept consists of adapting various types of AMAP armor and the ADS active protection system to protect an IFV against KE ammunition, EFPs, mines, IEDs, RPGs and ATGMs. In theory the same system could be offered for the BMP-MEXCA.

The TURRA 30 is an unmanned turred from EVPÚ
In most cases, the Šakal was showcased with a TURRA 30 unmanned turret made by the Slovakian company EVPÚ. This is an unmanned turret is armed with a 30 mm gun, a coaxial machine gun (MG) and a dual launcher for anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). The turret has eight smoke grenade discharges located in four groups of two. The computerized fire control system includes modern optronics for commander and gunner, which feature thermal imagers. At Eurosatory 2014 another variant of the BMP-M2/Šakal was demonstrated, this time fitted with the Samson Mk II RWS from the Israeli company Rafael. This remote controlled weapon station (RWS) was chosen by the Lithuanian Army for the Vilkas, a version of the Boxer multi-role armored vehicle. It includes a 30 mm autocannon - usually the Mk 44 Bushmaster II chaingun from ATK - a coaxial machine gun and a retractable dual-launcher for Spike-LR ATGMs, which is however not dampened. Alternatively Excalibur Army is offering the DVK-30 one-man-turret as upgrade option for the APCs and IFVs, which is a low profile turret with the weapon station in overhead mount. This turret can be fitted with either a 30 mm CZ30 or 2A42 autocannon and provides storage for 300 rounds in the dual-feed system of the gun (100 rounds of one type and 200 rouinds of another type). As seconary armament a 7.62 mm machine gun with 1,650 bullets is used. Six 81 mm smoke grenades and the welded steel armor capable of resisting 14.5 mm AP ammo in the frontal arc and 7.62 mm bullets all-around provide protection against incoming fire. The fact that the DVK-30 turret has only a crew of one, the poor armor protection aswell as the limited gun depression from -4° to +50° make the DVK-30 a worse option than both the TURRA 30 and the Samson Mk II unmanned turrets.

Šakal fitted with Samson Mk 2 RWS
The biggest advantage of the Šakal is the greater degree of local industry involvment compared to all other options. While - with the potential exception of the Puma IFV - all offered vehicles are understood to include a cooperation with the local industry, the amount of involvment of the Czech industry seems to be reduced to a small amount. BAE Systems for example always manufactures the CV90 hull, but allows the local industry to provide several components (such as computer systems, roadwheels and storage boxes) and to make the turret under licence. General Dynamics allowed most of the Pandur IIs for the Czech Army to be made locally, while Rheinmetall has shown its willingeness to accept licence production agreements in Algeria and Poland.
The Šakal is however far from perfect, even including the hypothetical versions mentioned earlier. Even though the Šakal uses new rubber band tracks and a more powerful engine, it won't be able to handle much additional weight; the BMP-2's growth potential is too limited, being further enhanced requires to start/continue the development of new suspension elements, new powerpacks, etc. and/or buying foreign technology. Even when accounting for a Šakal variant with the upgraded MGC-14.5/BMP-M1 CZ armor, the vehicle would only provide the same level of protection as the already existing wheeled Pandur II IFV operated by the Czech Army. Not only being unable to handle as much weight as the other vehicles, the BMP-2 hull also offers less useable volume. In order to compensate this fact, Excalibur Army used to offer a version of the BMP-M2 Šakal design with a 500 mm raised roof at the driver's and crew comparment.

According to Polish sources, the PMMC (protected mission module carrier) G5 from the German company Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft (FFG) might also be offered as option for the BMP-2 replacement. Meant as a low-cost of the M113 armored personnel carrier (APC), the PMMC G5 makes use of many off-the-shelf components including some parts of the M2 Bradley. The PMMC G5 has a semi-modular layout, allowing the vehicle to be reconfigured for different missions by swapping out mission modules; in the basic concept this is similar to the Boxer multi-role armored vehicle (MRAV). The PMMC G5 has an empty weight of about 18 metric tons and has a maximum gross vehicle weight of 26.5 metric tons, thus offering 8.5 metric tons for the adoption of an add-on armor package, a weapon station, or a mission specific package. It has been claimed to have a high level of built-in protection against mines and IEDs (impovised explosive devices). In some cases the G5 has been showcased with homogenous armor, but it also has been fitted with spaced armor and with ceramic composite armor.
The G5 is fitted with a 550 horsepower MTU MTU 199 TE21 engine in a six-cylinder configuration. The slightly larger eight cylinder version is used on the British Scout-SV Ajax. Coupled to a LSG 1000 HD automatic transmission from ZF Friedrichshafen AG, the engine is able to accerlate the PMMC G5 to a top road speed of 74 kilometres per hour. The internal tanks hold enough fuel for a road range of 1,000 kilometres.

The FFG PMMC G5 in the scout variant
On IDEX 2017 a version of the G5 was showcased by FFG, which seems to be suited for use as infantry fighting vehicle. The vehicle is fitted with Dynamit Nobel Defence's FEWAS 30 remote weapon station armed 30 mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II chain gun, a coaxial machine gun and a dual-launcher for the Spike-LR ATGMs. This turret appears to be a licence-made version of the Samson Mk 2 RWS from Rafael. The version at IDEX was fitted with lightweight rubber band tracks, which reduce the noise generated during travel. A front-mounted camera system enhances the situtational awareness. Protection is provided by a mast-mounted laser warning system from Elbit Systems, located on the rear section of the hull, as well as applique composite armor, which is expected to reach at least ballistic protection in accordance with STANAG 4569 level 4.
The APC variant of the G5 is claimed to be able to transport twelve men including the three of crew; an IFV variant is expected to carry only eleven men (driver, commander, gunner and eight dismounts). Thanks to it's large internal volume of 14.5 m³, the ambulance version of the PMMC G5 is currently competing against several wheeled options for adoption by the German Army.

Zetor Engineering is offering the Wolfdog. Note the missing missile launcher on this model
The company Zetor Engineering, a newly founded subsidiary of the Czech tractor manufacturer, has presented first scale models and a mock-up of a cross-sectiton of the new Wolfdog IFV design, that the company plans to offer to the Czech Army. The vehicle is meant to be manned by a crew of three and transport up to eight dismounts. Ontop of the hull, an unmanned turret of unknown type will be mounted. It is not clear wether Zetor Engineering intends to design an own turret or plans utilizing an yet unnanounced turret made by another company. Alternatively the current turret design might be just a placeholder.

The Wolfdog is armed with an autocannon, two machine guns and an ATGM launcher
The turret includes three identical set of optics, each apparently containing a daysight camera, a thermal imager and a laser rangefinder. The gunner's sight is fixed to the turret front, while the commander is provided with an independent optic unit, that provides 360° traverse. A further identical optic is mounted in a remotely operated weapon stations - this is rather uncommon, because usually the RWS in AFVs is operated by either gunner or commander (in MBTs sometimes the loader is meant to operate the RWS, but there is no human loader in an IFV). With the RWS' optics and the commander's sight both identical, it seems reasonable to assume that the RWS of the Wolfdog is operated by the gunner or by a soldier belonging to the infantry squad; the latter would enable the Wolfdog to engage multiple targets simultaneously, while at the same time having proper hunter/killer capabilty - other than the Wolfdog, only the Puma (once fitted with its TWSA) is capable of doing that.

The Wolfdog follows a conventional IFV layout with front-mounted engine
The Wolfdog IFVis meant to be equipped with a 800 kW engine connected to a gearbox with six forward and six reverse speeds; the company has not disclosed which exact powerpack will be used, but the description would match the Puma's MT892 engine with Renk HSWL 256 transmission; however one should not rule out the possibility of Zetor Engineering planing to use another powerpack made by Scania or other manufacturers. The running gear of the new IFV design utilizes seven pairs of roadwheels to spread the weight evenly along the tracks. They are connected to a hydropneumatic suspension, that can allow to alter the ground clearance of the vehicles as optional feature. An auxiliary power unit with unknown output provides the vehicle's systems with energy when the engine is turned off. The top speed of the Wolfdog is quoted as 70 km/h, tthe vehicle can carry enough fuel to travel a 600 kilometre long distance. According to current projections of the vehicle's performance, the Wolfdog can cross 1.2 metre deep bodies of water and climb 0.895 m high vertical obstacles. It can drive at up to 32° side slope and climb 30° slopes.

The main armament of the Wolfdog consists of an unspecified autocannon. The vehicle can accept a wide variety of different weapon systems ranging from a small RWS (when used as APC) to a 120 mm gun in case of a light/medium tank variant, which however wouldn't carry an infantry squad. Aside of the autocannon a dual-launcher for anti-tank guided missiles is located at the right side of the unmanned turret, while a coaxial machine gun is located left of the main gun. A RWS with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun sits ontop of the turret.

The welded steel hull of the vehicle is fitted with modular add-on armor
At 38 metric tons in the basic configuration, the Wolfdog is heavier than the offered variants of ASCOD 2 and CV90 Mark III, aswell as Lynx and Puma IFV in the baseline configurations. One would expect a matching or greater level of protection then - however according to the manufacturer, the Wolfdog's armor offers only ballistic protection according to STANAG 4569 level 4 and 5, i.e. no protection against 30 mm anti-vehicle rounds and bigger threats. The vehicle can be fitted with additional applique armor sets to reach various different levels of protection. The frontal armor can be boosted to resist 30 mm APFSDS ammo in order to meeting the STANAG 4569 level 6 requirements, while passive armor can be added to resist RPGs with single stage warhead. Active protection - understood to be either explosive reactive armor or an active protection system - would allow the Wolfdog to resist RPGs with tandem shaped charge warhead such as the RPG-29. A further armor package to protect the frontal arc against 40 mm and 57 mm munitions has been suggested, but not yet developed. The maximum gross vehicle weight of 49 metric tons would certainly allow using a lot of additional armor.

Cross-section mock-up of the Wolfdog IFV. Notte the spaced floor plate aswell as the spaced roof armor.
The huge weight of the Wolfdog in relation to its protection level is concerning. While arguably being about the same size as the Puma - the Wolfdog has a slightly longer hull, but is neither as tall nor as wide as German Army's IFV - the Wolfdog achieves a lower level of protection in the standard configuration despite having an extra six tons of weight. Zetor Engineering has not revealed any partners or technology suppliers, but rather has shown a mock-up of the Wolfdog's cross-section, which only showed steel and spaced armor; this might mean, that the Czech company decided to develop and utilize its own armor technology, which is unable to achieve the same protection level per weight as modern solutions from the market leading competition. If true, then the Wolfdog designers have made a huge oversight, dimishing the chances of the locally designed IFVs to be chosen over its European rivals.
The roof armor of the Wolfdog appears to be spaced steel - the same type of armor was used on the old Marder 1A3 back in 1988 - which should provide protection against artillery fragments from close ranges. The composition of the thick side armor modules is unknown, however the sponsons are empty and can be used to store ammo or other equipment inside them, which would reduce casualities in case of armor penetration. A total of four hatches allows accessing the interior of the sponsons. The double-layered floor plate of the Wolfdog meets the STANAG 4569 level 4 protection against mines and IEDs, which is currently the highest standardized threat class. However it also appears to be made out of steel only based on the mock-up. A composite belly plate would allow a significant weight reduction.

There are numerous further IFVs in the European market, that in theory could be offered to the Czech Army. E.g. one of them them is the Anders, which has its origins in Poland, however it is questionable that it would be offered for the Czech IFV tender. Last year the Anders IFV was presented in an upgraded configuration, but there weren't any further news on the vehicle. Apparently the vehicle was meant to compete against the Borsuk IFV, the development of which is currently being funded by the Polish government; recently it was announced that the Borsuk will be redesigned with heavier armor protection. The development of the Anders was supposedly finished and it is in theory offering an acceptable level of protection - at least STANAG 4569 level 5 ballistic protection once fitted with applique armor.