The Mowag family of the armoured vehicle since 1972 is an outstanding export success, in any model Piranha has successfully completed its role.

At the height of the Cold War era, where track-and-wheeled armored designs still dominate the battlefield, Mowag Piranha has appeared as a perfect solution with lower procurement and maintenance costs. It is the platform that creates multitude of other battlefield vehicles from a single chassis, from infantry fighting vehicles, Armored Personnel Carrier, general purpose Armored Fighting Vehicle to Command vehicle, reconnaissance, security, ambulance, et cetera.

Mowag Piranha Full specifications

Remind a little about Mowag company for your convenience. This is a Swiss company which develops, designs and produces armoured vehicles for military applications in both land-only and amphibious configurations. Mowag was founded in 1950 as a privately owned company by engineer Walter Ruf. During the past 50 years Mowag has concentrated on the development and production of specialised vehicles. Since January 2004, Mowag has been a company within the General Dynamics European Land Systems group and continues to operate as a Swiss company.

The Mowag family of the armoured vehicle since 1972 is an outstanding export success, in any model Piranha has successfully completed its role. The vehicle is modularly designed and extremely flexible, and featured allowing extensive tailorization for any customer, from the engine to the main armament.

Piranha I
Piranha I

Customers can purchase the vehicle in a single configuration, during the operation, the vehicle can flexibly change its performance through conversion kits to suit other duties at low cost. The Mowag Piranha was exported to 21 countries and also largely built under license as nowadays it is estimated that more than 10,000 Piranha-based vehicles are in service worldwide.

This Mowag family has so many variants, Piranhas are available in 4×4, 6×6, 8×8, and 10×10 wheel versions. There are several variants within these versions, giving different degrees of armour protection and several kinds of turret, for use in a variety of roles. The most famous of them all, the 8×8 is by far the best known and most common. It is also perhaps the most produced 8×8 APC in the Western world, with more than 6,500 vehicles for this version alone.

Piranha II

It can be said that Piranha is an influential design with dozens of licensed versions, it also inspired the development of similar vehicles over five continents. This includes the concept of wheeled Infantry fighting vehicles and destroyers that are popular today in many armies, as they can replace costly MBTs in low-intensity conflicts and asymmetric warfare.

Piranha is simply too flexible, talking about all versions of this vehicle in a video is impossible and we will gradually explore the variations of this great vehicle line in other videos. This video only provide the most basic information of this vehicle so you have an overall view of Mowag’s family.

All configurations follow a common outline and there are many components shared by all models. The hull basically has angular shape, the sloped armor shape of the vehicle was not something new, however. Some similar designs could be found with the American CGC M706 or Russian BTR.

Piranha III
Piranha III

The hull was entirely made of welded RHA, with an NBC lining, and made amphibious, with propellers. The nose design was characteristically multi-faceted, with a central spine, and lateral polygons joining the nose to the equally highly sloped sides. The rear was slightly sloped downwards, due to the presence of the main access doors. To avoid being torn in collisions or present a deadly threat to foot soldiers, the edgy beak was softened on the Piranha III. The base armor only protected against small weapons fire and artillery shell splinters and was presumably of 6 to 8 mm, while the slopes made it artificially thicker. It was reinforced on later version, especially on the front glacis against heavy machine gun rounds.

Piranha V
Piranha V

Modular amour packages and add-on armor plates were also frequently seen with the Piranha III. The driver and commander were seated on the left-hand side, one behind the other after the nose section, each with their own hatch dotted with three periscopes covering the frontal arc. The engine compartment was located on the right-hand side, with exhaust grilles and cooling fans above, the transmission and gearbox were housed in the nose. The troop compartment was located behind, with the main weapon system housing in between, operated by one of the crew members. Cargo capacity was about 3 tons, and there was a carrying capacity of 5-6 fully equipped infantrymen up to 15 to 16 on the Piranha 8×8.

Modular design makes it easy to replace, repair or upgrade even in field conditions
Modular design makes it easy to replace, repair or upgrade even in field conditions

In the initial configuration, the vehicle was equipped with a 6-cylinder Mowag diesel engine combined with Allison MT-653 automatic 6-speed planetary gearbox. This powerful engine with 275 horsepower makes it possible to reach a top speed of 100 km/h on a flat surface. The Piranha baseline vehicles have two propellers for water propulsion with maximum speed in water of 10km/h and an amphibious kit is provided for rough seawater operations. With 300 liters of diesel it can operate within 780km. The Piranha was designed as a state-of-the-art wheeled armored vehicle, capable of operating in terrain conditions, that would stop many existing wheeled armored vehicles.

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The Piranhas could be armed with a wide variety of weapons, ranging from simple machine gun turrets to elaborate turrets with large caliber guns. It can be also fitted with external weapon stations, including some for ATGWs, can be installed centrally on the hull roof.

Piranha is considered a good alternative to obsolete armored vehicles such as BTR-152 and BTR-60PB
Piranha is considered a good alternative to obsolete armored vehicles such as BTR-152 and BTR-60PB

The larger models can mount gun turrets with up to 90 mm guns while the 10×10 model, first seen in 1994, can accommodate a 105 mm tank gun turret. The 8×8 models can also accommodate a 105 mm gun turret, with one model having a 120 mm breech-loaded mortar in a traversing turret.

Lighter models can tow 120 mm mortars or air defense missile system trailers such as those for the British Aerospace Jernas system. There are also recovery vehicle models, command posts, internal security and multiple rocket launchers.

Piranhas are used by the Swiss Army. Swiss-built Piranha derivatives have been exported to Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Romania, Spain, and Belgium. The Romanian and Belgian Armies have selected the Piranha IIIC 8×8. Belgium converted to an all-wheeled force, and replaced all their M113s, Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Leopard 1 with 268 Piranha IIIC in 7 variants.Piranha derivatives have been manufactured under license by General Dynamics of Canada, BAE Systems Land Systems of United Kingdom, Cardoen and FAMAE of Chile, and in the USA. The 8×8 LAV-25 family in service with the USMC was derived from the AVGP variants of the Piranha 6×6 built by GM Defense. The Australian Defence Force also had its own modified version of the LAV-25 8×8, known as the ASLAV Type I. The ASLAV is operated by two cavalry regiments and is used in the armoured reconnaissance and armoured personnel carrier roles.

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