The Rheinmetall Wiesel 2 (Weasel) Armoured Weapons Carrier (AWC) is a German light air-transportable armoured fighting vehicle. The Wiesel 2 is an enlarged and extended version of the Wiesel 1 with five road wheels instead of four, and a more powerful engine. The Bundeswehr ordered 178 of the new vehicle in various types, including air defense, radar, and anti-aircraft missile launcher, 120 mm mortar carrier, command and fire control, and ambulance variants, the Wiesel 2 entered service in 2001. The vehicle is fully airportable internally by a CH-53 helicopter. It can be also carried underslung by this helicopter. It is worth noting that CH-53G helicopters are widely used in the German army. The Wiesel 2 can be also airlifted by military transport aircraft. It is quite similar to historical scouting tankettes in size, form and function, and is the only true modern tankette in use in Western Europe.
This state-of-the-art family of vehicles can carry out a wide variety of missions, including reconnaissance, command and control, air defence and recovery and evacuation of wounded personnel. The Wiesel 2 is available in lightweight air defence, medivac, combat engineer reconnaissance and mobile command post versions. Tasked with an expanded mission spectrum, today’s armed forces need an airmobile reconnaissance, command and fire support system that is quickly deployable, hard-hitting, robust and flexible – in short, a system that can conduct network-enabled fire missions at joint and coalition level. This system of systems is specifically designed to support infantry formations deployed in peace enforcement and crisis reaction operations, giving them an organic direct and indirect fire and antitank capability as well as integrated reconnaissance and battle management assets.
The larger Wiesel 2 has almost twice as much internal volume as Wiesel 1, and is about 4.78 meters long, 2.17 meters high (depending on type), and 1.87 meters wide. Its weight is 4.78 metric tons (about 10,500 lbs) in its heaviest configuration. The Wiesel 2 is a stretched version of the Wiesel 1, with a fifth roadwheel. The engine was changed to a 1.9L Volkswagen in-line four-cylinder turbo diesel with direct injection and intercooler, giving 109 hp (81 kW) coupled to a ZF automatic transmission. The Wiesel 2 is generally bigger, faster and stronger than the Wiesel 1, with advanced features for the protection of the crew such as enhanced armour, an air conditioning system, and NBC protection. An APC variant the Wiesel 2 can carry 4 fully equipped troops. It has a roof mounted cupola armed with an externally mounted 7.62 mm machine gun. Troops enter and leave the vehicle via two doors in the rear.