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MOWAG Piranha
MOWAG (4120180412).jpg
Irish Army Piranha IIIH MRV armed with a 30 mm autocannon
Place of origin Switzerland
Service history
Used by see Operators
Production history
Designer MOWAG Motor Car Factory, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
Manufacturer MOWAG
Produced 1972–present
Variants Tank Destroyer, C3 Command Vehicle, Medevac, APC, police vehicle, Pioneer & Construction Vehicle
Weight From 9,300 kg (20,500 lb)
Length 6.25 to 7.45 m
Width 2.5 to 2.66 m
Height 1.8 to 1.98
Crew 3+5; driver, commander, gunner + 5 passengers[1]

Armor quick-mount selection, including defense against RPG, IED, NBC
1 × 12.7 mm MG turret, or MOWAG apex mount, grenade launcher, or TOW anti-tank missile.
Engine diesel engine
202 kW 275hp
Transmission Allison MT-653 automatic 6-speed planetary gearbox
Suspension hydropneumatic 6×6, 8×8, or 10x10 wheeled, tyres 13.00 × 20 run-flat (insert)
Fuel capacity 300 l
780 km (485 mi)
Speed 100 km/h (62 mph), water 10 km/h (6 mph)
1 and 2 axle

The MOWAG Piranha is a family of armoured fighting vehicles designed by the Swiss company MOWAG (since April 2010 the name has changed to General Dynamics European Land Systems – Mowag GmbH).

Five generations of vehicles have been produced, manufactured by Mowag or under licence by other companies, and variants are in service with military forces throughout the world.


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. Piranha derivatives have been assigned roles as troop transports, command vehicles, fire support vehicles, tank trainers, and police vehicles.

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, AIFVs and Leopard 1s with 268 Piranha IIIC in 7 variants.[2][3]

Piranha derivatives have been manufactured under license by General Dynamics (Canada), BAE Systems Land Systems (UK), Cardoen and FAMAE (Chile), and in the USA. The 8×8 US Army Stryker vehicle is derived from the Canadian LAV III, which in turn is based on the Piranha, as is the LAV-25 family in service with the USMC. The Australian Defence Force also has its own modified version of the Piranha I 8×8, known as the ASLAV (Australian Light Armoured Vehicle). The ASLAV is operated by two cavalry regiments (the 2nd Cavalry Regiment and 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment) and is used in the armoured reconnaissance and armoured personnel carrier roles.

Some variants, like the United States Marine Corps's Light Armored Vehicle-25 (LAV-25) and its derivatives, are equipped with propellers for amphibious use, though their swimming capability is restricted to sheltered waters.

A new Piranha V version, weighing in between 25 and 30 tons, was announced as the provisional winner of the British Army's FRES program on 8 May 2008.[4] However, this was withdrawn [clarification needed] seven months later and bidding has started again.[citation needed]

General Dynamics European Land Systems launched their new Piranha Class 5 at EUROSATORY 2010 on 15 June and it is reported that the British MoD are showing renewed interest, but are struggling with budget constraints.[5]

MOWAG Piranha 4×4 IB[edit]

MOWAG Piranha IB 4×4
MOWAG Piranha 4×4 IB
MOWAG Piranha IB 4×4
Place of origin Switzerland
Production history
Designer MOWAG Motor Car Factory, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
Manufacturer MOWAG
Produced 1974–present
Variants Armt, recon
Weight 6,300 kg (13,900 lb)
Length 5.40m
Width 2.5m
Height 1.85m /
Crew 7: driver, commander, gunner + 4 more people

1× 12.7 mm MG in the turret or wildcat AAA with 2×30mm gun, or TSE 5000 Crotale, or ADATS, or Rheinmetal 105 mm Canon
Engine Chrysler Chrysler V8 gasoline engine 360-1 Displacement 6,780 cm³
125 kW
Transmission NP 540 Chrysler mechanics transmission, 5 forward gears, 1 reverse gear
Suspension 4×4 wheeled, tyres 13.00 × 20 run-flat (insert)
Fuel capacity 200 l
700 km (41l/100km)
Speed 100 km/h (62 mph), water 10 km/h (6 mph)
1 axle

The MOWAG Piranha 4×4 IB was an armored personnel carrier.

To complete the Piranha I Family of 1974, the Piranha 4×4 IB was designed as a light vehicle with the purpose of a rapid reconnaissance and attack vehicle. It could take part in amphibious operations thanks to twin propellers and could operate in NBC contaminated areas. The Piranha 4×4 was also designed to meet police needs. In addition, the MOWAG Grenadier and Mowag Spy sub-versions were also developed. The prototype of the Piranha 4×4 IB went through numerous tests and received different equipment and different engines. Due to the rapid technological developments and adjustments to requirements for military vehicles, no Piranha with gasoline engine was sold. The prototype is now in the Full Military Museum.

MOWAG Piranha IB 6×6[edit]

MOWAG Piranha IB 6×6
San Piranha.jpg
MOWAG Piranha IB 6×6 Swiss Army
Place of origin Switzerland
Service history
Used by Switzerland, Canada, United Nations
Production history
Designer MOWAG Motor Car Factory, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
Manufacturer MOWAG
Produced 1972–present
Variants Tank Destroyer, C3 Command Vehicle Medevac, APC, Police vehicle
Weight 9,300 kg (20,500 lb)
Length 6.25m
Width 2.66m
Height 1.985m / 2.17m
Crew 7: driver, commander, gunner + 4 more people

1× 12.7 mm MG turret or MOWAG apex mount, or grenade launcher, TOW anti-tank missile, or Mephisto ATM.
Engine Chrysler V8 petrol engine HT 413 Displacement 6,780 cm³
147 kW
Transmission Allison MT-40 Automatic 6-speed planetary gearbox
Suspension 6×6 wheeled, tyres 13.00 × 20 run-flat (insert)
Fuel capacity 200 l
500 km (41l/100km)
Speed 100 km/h (62 mph), water 10 km/h (6 mph)
1 axle or 1 and 2 axle

The first Piranha prototype ever built was the 6×6 IB in 1972. It can be seen as a milestone for the Piranha series due to various technical innovation like (at the time) modern designed drive with independent suspension, compact power unit in the right front and (as an amphibian drive) being powered by two propellers. This prototype was demonstrated with different engines and features for potential customers such as the Canadian Army who locally produced them as the AVGP. Switzerland sold a license to manufacture this machine to Chile in 1983. In the Swiss Army, the Piranha 6×6 is used as an ambulance, C3 command vehicle and, together with the BGM-71 TOW, as a Tank Destroyer. The prototype is along with an ambulance Piranha 6×6 on display in the Full Military Museum.

MOWAG Piranha IIIC 10×10[edit]

MOWAG Piranha IIIC 10×10
MOWAG Piranha IIIC 10x10
MOWAG Piranha IIIC 10×10 at Military Museum Full
Place of origin Switzerland
Service history
Used by Sweden
Production history
Designer MOWAG Motor Car Factory, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
Manufacturer MOWAG
Produced 1994
Variants Tank, C3 Command Vehicle.
Weight 18,000 kg (40,000 lb)
Length 7.45m
Width 2.66m
Height 1.98m / 2.17m
Crew 3: driver, commander, gunner

turret Oerlikon GDD BOE with 35 mm automatic cannon KDE
7.62 mm coaxial MG FN MAG and 6 × Nebelwurfbecher 76mm
Engine Detroit Diesel V6, V6 53TA
350 hp
Transmission Allison MD 3560 P-automatic transmission, 6 forward gears, 1 reverse
Suspension 10×10 wheeled, tyres 13.00 × 20 run-flat (insert)
Speed 100 km/h (62 mph)
1 and 2 axle

With the continuous evolution of the Piranha family due to increasing demands, and the projected development of the Mowag Shark as a heavy weapons carrier, the Piranha design reached the limit of its payload capacity. The Piranha 10×10 (built in 1994), was an attempt to expand the payload, using a 5th axle of the same type as used in the smaller Piranha models. The Piranha 10×10 was designed as a heavy weapons carrier, but only a small number were built for Sweden as the LIRKA command tank and Kapris radar carrier. The Piranha IIIC 10×10 marked an important development from the Piranha IIIC 8×8. The Piranha IIIC 10×10 prototype was used in various tests, including in Sweden, and now stands in the Schweizerisches Militärmuseum Full.

Family tree[edit]

The LAV-25 has two M240 machine guns and a 25 mm autocannon.
MOWAG Piranha IIIC ambulance of the Spanish Marines


Piranha I[edit]

Map of Pirahna 1 operators in blue with former operators in red

Piranha II[edit]

Map of Pirahna 2 operators in blue
  • Canada Canadian Army – 199 Bison[13] and Coyote AFVs
  • Oman Royal Army of Oman – 174 Piranha II in 7 versions.[8]
  • Qatar Qatar Armed Forces – 40 Piranha II 8×8 built under licence by former British firm Alvis PLC. (36 CCTS-90 tank hunter with a Belgian Cockerill 90 mm gun[14] and 4 ARVs-recovery).[10]
  • Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian National Guard – 1,117 LAV/Piranha II in 10 versions; another 132 ordered.[8]
  • Sweden Swedish Army – 44 Piranha II 10×10 including 27 Armoured Sensor Vehicle and 17 Armoured Command Vehicle (7.62 mm machine gun) and 10 Piranha II 8×8 Armoured Escort Vehicle ordered in 1997
  • Switzerland Swiss Army – over 500 Piranha IIC (APC93 8×8), including command version (Kdo Pz 93+)

Piranha III[edit]

Map of Pirahna 3 operators in blue

Piranha V[edit]

Map with Piranha 5 operators in blue
  • Denmark Danish Army – In the process of acquiring 309 units. The first were delivered in May 2017, with all expected to be in use by 2023.[21][22]
  • Monaco Monégasque Carabiniers – Two Piranha V units.[23]
  • Romania Romanian Land Forces – 30 units will be produced at GDELS-Mowag's facilities in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland and delivered in 2018. Another 197 units will be produced in Romania, at Uzina Mecanica Bucharest.[24]
  • Spain Spanish Army – Five units were acquired in 2015 as prototypes for the VBMR program.
  • Spain Spanish Navy Marines – An undetermined number of Piranha V with 120 mm guns will replace the M60A3 in service.[25]

Former operators[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Christopher Chant. Compendium of Armaments and Military Hardware. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Drayson: New vehicles will have "vital part to play in the Army of the future"". United Kingdom Ministry of Defense. June 8, 2007. Retrieved July 4, 2007. 
  5. ^ GD Rolls Out Piranha 5 Once Slated for Britain – Eurosatory 2010 – Defense News Show Scout
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Defence Materiel Organisation
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h
  9. ^ Ghana Armed Forces Archived 2008-04-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ a b c The Wheeled Piranha Fighting Vehicle Family
  11. ^ (in French)Véhicule sanitaire Piranha I, 6×6 (transformation du chasseur de chars), Message concernant l’acquisition de matériel d’armement – Programme d’armement 2005, p.26, 2005.
  12. ^ (in French)Véhicule de commandement/transformation de chasseurs de chars auxquels il est renoncé Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine., Message concernant l’acquisition de matériel d’armement – Programme d’armement 2006, p.21, 2006.
  13. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  14. ^ Mowag Piranha,
  15. ^
  16. ^ General Dynamics awarded Order for 18 PIRANHA IIIC 8x8 Vehicles from Brazilian Marines Archived 2011-09-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ Procurement: Iraq Buys What It Knows
  18. ^
  19. ^ (in French)Accroissement de la capacité de l’infrastructure de télécommunications Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine., Message concernant l’acquisition de matériel d’armement – Programme d’armement 2007, p.22, 2007.
  20. ^ (in French)Le programme d'armement 2008, Armée suisse Archived 2011-08-13 at the Wayback Machine., p.9, 2008 on Armament Program – armasuisse
  21. ^ "309 New Armored Vehicles". (in Danish). Retrieved 11 December 2015. 
  22. ^ Tomkins, Richard (19 May 2017). "First Piranhas delivered to Danish military". United Press International. Archived from the original on 21 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017. 
  23. ^ Giletta, Jacques (2005). Les Gardes Personnelles des Princes de Monaco (1st ed.). Taurus Editions. ISBN 2 912976-04-9. 
  24. ^ Adamowski, Jaroslaw (13 October 2017). "Romania-General Dynamics agree to locally manufacture Piranha armored vehicle". Defense News. Warsaw. Archived from the original on 16 October 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2017. 
  25. ^ "La Infantería de Marina apostará por el VCR 8 x 8 para sustitución del M60 A3 TTS". Ejércitos. Retrieved 23 January 2018. 
  26. ^ "Trade Registers". Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  27. ^ Fighting in Northern Liberia


  1. ^ Chilean built 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 in different configurations for the Chilean Army.


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