The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) has notified the group of companies formed by Nexter Systems and Renault Trucks Défense of an order for 332 infantry armoured combat vehicles (VBCI). The number of VBCIs ordered for the French Army totals 630 vehicles, in accordance with the guidelines of the French White Paper on Defence and National Security.
Initiated in 2000, the program is now in its maximum production phase. The first VBCI left the factory in 2008 and over 100 vehicles have already been delivered and the last will be delivered to the French Army in 2015. The first combat unit to be equipped with this new armoured vehicle, the 35th infantry regiment, used the VBCI in this year’s 14th of July parade.
The Military programming law for 2009-2014 stresses the importance of updating combat equipment, especially land combat equipment. The VBCI is an accomplished system, which meets current operational needs in terms of protection and growth potential.
The 8 wheel-drive armoured vehicle, heir to the AMX 10P, is available in command post version (VPC) and infantry combat version (VCI). The VCI version, of which 520 have been ordered, is equipped with a 25 mm turret and provides transport for eleven troops. Weighing 30 tons at full load, the VBCI can reach a top speed of 100 km/h. It will be transportable by air in the soon to be produced A400M transport aircraft. True “life base” for the infantryman, the VBCI offers a high level of protection, including an NBC filtering system. It is equipped with armour resistant to medium-sized calibres, shell shrapnel and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). It also offers a high level of protection from mines and possesses infrared decoys.