The milestones in the development history of the PANTHER family.
Let's take a look back to 1997. Rosenbauer has been on the market for six years with the PANTHER 8x8. The customers are highly satisfied, the number of interested parties is continuously increasing, and in the future the successful aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle will also be sold in the USA and China. Rosenbauer is aiming to increase production figures to between 50 and 100 vehicles per year - a tenfold increase on the previous output. The time is ripe for the next big step in development.
There are two main challenges to be overcome. First and foremost, additional vehicle types are needed for the new markets. The PANTHER 8x8 can serve major airports, but not the countless medium and smaller airports in North America, China, and many other countries. Rosenbauer continues to develop the PANTHER and also builds it on 4x4 and 6x6 chassis. The PANTHER 4x4 is characterized by particularly good acceleration values and from now on competes with the so-called Rapid Intervention Vehicles. The driving and unloading performance of the 6x6 suits most of the world's airports, which is why it quickly became a high-volume product.
In addition, the targeted number of units is no longer economically feasible with the previous production technology based on GRP (glass-fiber reinforced plastic). The exclusive superstructure design is therefore exchanged for an aluminum body, and the PANTHER is produced not only in Europe but also in the USA. The benefits of this transition: improved material availability, proven assembly and connection technology, efficient production, easy servicing and spare parts supply. The only drawback: the design is not nearly as exciting.
The aluminum PANTHER didn't last long. In 2005, completely new vehicles are on display at the world's leading trade fair, Interschutz. The design as the trademark of the Rosenbauer flagship returns, the silhouette of the PANTHER gets more style and vibrancy again. Advanced plastics technology makes it possible to produce even complex design parts economically. Rosenbauer invests in new molds and now relies on a visually appealing material mix of aluminum, plastic, and glass for the PANTHER.
One of the primary reasons for the new edition of the PANTHER series, which has now grown to three models, is the new technical requirements. For example, the ICAO fire protection categories for airports are expanded and tightened. Wherever the A380 is to land and take off in the future, the airport fire departments will have to keep more extinguishing agents and vehicles on hand and be able to extinguish the wide-bodied aircraft from above as well. Rosenbauer is developing the PANTHER 8x8 with an extra-long wheelbase for category 10 airports, which can transport up to 19,000 l of extinguishing agent, and equips it with a 20 m extinguishing arm. The exhaust emission standards also become more stringent. Not for the first time, and not for the last. They force Rosenbauer to change the technical base of the PANTHER and to look around for new engines, because the units used are no longer produced in the required exhaust gas class. This is what happened in 2005 with the switch from MAN or Detroit Diesel (Euro-2/3) to Caterpillar (Euro-4) and in 2013 from Caterpillar to Volvo (Euro 5, from 2016: Euro-6).
As early as 2000, the PANTHER series was expanded to include air-transportable vehicles, so that they could be flown quickly into crisis regions to secure air traffic on the ground. In 2009, after the long-wheelbase PANTHER 8x8, a short-wheelbase variant is also launched, so that customers do not have to convert their fire stations when they put the vehicle into service. In 2013, the PANTHER 6x6S, a model with a reduced width (2.5 m instead of 3.0 m), was finally added to the series because airport fire departments in France, Japan, and Switzerland also wanted to operate their vehicles outside the airport grounds. This completes the PANTHER family.
Since 2003, everything has come from a single source for the PANTHER 4x4 and 6x6, and since 2007 also for the PANTHER 8x8: superstructure, fire-fighting technology, and chassis. In the current generation, everything has also been standardized: the design, the components from which the chassis is made, the drive train with power divider for pump-and-roll operation, the extinguishing equipment and, last but not least, the operation. Above all, the uniform operation, as offered by Rosenbauer not only in the PANTHER but in all airport vehicles (ARFF vehicles, tank fire-fighting vehicles, aerial rescue equipment, escape stairways), is of particular interest to the airport fire departments: They have less training effort, everyone can operate each vehicle and switch immediately to another if necessary. In addition, the supply of spare parts is facilitated and the service effort minimized.
This is one of the PANTHER's great strengths. It manages the balancing act between offering a wide variety and uniformity. Product Manager Philipp Platzl: "Every airport has its own philosophy and tactics, depending on factors such as the airport category, passenger frequency, airport layout, location of fire stations, fire service crew size and duty roster, national regulations, and so on. We therefore need both: the diversity of types in order to work with our customers to develop the vehicle configuration and fleet composition that suits them respectively, and uniform operation and servicing in order to be able to operate the fleet as efficiently as possible. With the PANTHER, we can always offer the optimal solution."
All four PANTHER generations at a look.
The PANTHER 8x8 is the royal class among ARFF vehicles.
The PANTHER 6x6 in full drive.
The PANTHER 6x6 S is an all-rounder.
The PANTHER 4x4 impresses with top sprinting qualities.
The PANTHER family (basic variants):
The entire range (4x4, 6x6, 6x6 S and 8x8) impresses with cutting-edge features for maximum performance, safety and functionality.
Chassis: RBI 52.000 series
Motorization: 1.450 HP
Extinguishing agent volume: up to 19.000 l
Top speed: 135 km/h
Acceleration from 0 to 80 km/h: < 25 sec.
Total weight: up to 52.000 kg
Chassis: RBI 39.000 series
Motorization: 750 HP
Extinguishing agent volume: up to 14.000 l
Top speed: 120 km/h
Acceleration from 0 to 80 km/h: < 30 sec
Total weight: up to 39.000 kg
PANTHER 6x6 S
Chassis: RBI 33.000 series
Motorization: 700 HP
Extinguishing agent volume: up to 10.300 l
Top speed: 115 km/h
Acceleration from 0 to 80 km/h: < 28 sec.
Total weight: up to 33.600 kg
Chassis: RBI 26.000 series
Motorization: 700 HP
Extinguishing agent volume: up to 6.950 l
Top speed: 115 km/h
Acceleration from 0 to 80 km/h: < 22 sec.
Total weight: up to 26.000 kg
Thanks to its well thought-out model grading, the PANTHER series fully covers the requirements of modern aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles.