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.
In 2006 Belgian Army ordered a number of Swiss MOWAG Piranha IIIC 8×8 armored personnel carriers and a host of their variants to meet their armored infantry vehicle requirement. A total of 242 vehicles, including variants were ordered. 40 of these vehicles were fitted with CMI Defence 90-mm turret. Other sources report that currently only 18 of these vehicles are in service with Belgian Army and 22 vehicles are optional for supplementary orders. These are known as Piranha IIIC Direct Fire 90 or DF90. First vehicles were delivered in 2008.
This fire support vehicle has significant strategic and tactical mobility. It can support other Piranha IIIC 8×8 armored vehicles with direct fire. Operational concept behind these mobile lightly armored units is stressed on speed, deployability and maneuverability to counter enemy forces.
The main role of this Belgian artillery system is to support infantry. It is effective against lightly armored and soft skin vehicles. It can also engage buildings and fortifications. However it is not effective against modern main battle tanks. The 90-mm gun do not has adequate firepower for this mission. It is worth noting that most other countries are fielding fire support vehicles, armed with more powerful 105-mm or 120-mm guns. It seems that these were to heavy for the Piranha IIIC 8×8 chassis, so the 90-mm gun was selected.
This fire support vehicle is fitted with Belgian CMI Defence LCTS90 two-man turret. It is armed with a medium-pressure Cockerill Mk.8 90-mm gun. The gun is loaded manually. The gun is fully-stabilized and can fire accurately on the move at moving targets. It is worth noting that the CMI Defence is a world leader in 90-mm guns and turrets.
A wide range of ammunition is available for this gun. It can also fire newly developed high efficiency ammunition. Maximum range of fire is about 2.2 km. Indirect range of fire is up to 7.8 km. This gun can also launch Ukrainian Falarick 90 anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary rounds. These missiles have laser guidance. However it is unknown if Belgian fire support vehicles use these missiles.
A total of 37 rounds are carried by the vehicle. 17 rounds are stored in the turret bustle and are ready to use. Remaining 20 rounds are stored inside the turret.
There is a coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun. Another 7.62-mm MG is mounted on the roof.
This fire support vehicle has advanced fire control system with a panoramic commander’s sight. Vehicle has a hunter-killer engagement capability.
The LCTS90 turret can be also mounted on other wheeled or tracked armored vehicles in a weight class of 10 to 20 t. It is used on Kuwaitian Pandur 6×6 fire support vehicles, Quatari and Saudi Arabian Piranha II 8×8 fire support vehicles.
The Belgian Piranha IIIC DF90 fire support vehicle has a modular scaleable armor protection against small arms fire, mine blasts and RPG rounds. It could be tailored, to suit specific mission requirements. Baseline turret armor provides protection against 7.62-mm armor-piercing rounds. Add-on armor can be fitted for a higher level of protection. Vehicle has a special underfloor design, that provides protection against landmines and improvised explosive devices. This machine is also fitted with NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems.
This artillery system is operated by a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver.
This fire support vehicle is powered by a Caterpillar C9 turbocharged diesel engine, developing 400 hp. Engine is located at the front. It is mated to ZF 7-speed automatic gearbox. Vehicle has a modern independent wheel suspension. It is claimed that this vehicle has cross-country mobility comparable to that of tracked vehicles. This vehicle no longer has amphibious capability due to increased weight.