The French VBCI Infantry Fighting Vehicle Background and Development
During the 1990’s France started out on project to replace the tracked AMX-10P, which grew in to a joint project with Germany and the UK, however the joint effort was terminated in 1999 and France continued to develop the project resulting in the 8×8 wheeled Véhicule Blindé de Combat d’Infanterie (Armoured vehicle for infantry combat) aka the VCBI.
France placed an original order in 2000 with the French companies Giat Industries (now Nexter) and Renault Trucks defence, who both formed a new joint company to manage the development of the vehicle called Satory Military Vehicles, but the company was closed in 2003, with Giat becoming the principal manufacturer/developer.
Testing of the principal systems, mobility, armoured protection and the electronics which are now vital systems on modern Armoured Fighting Vehicles, were tested with great success and implemented in to the first five field test vehicles, which commenced from 2004 to 2005.
There are currently four variants being manufactured for the French Army:
VCI (infantry combat vehicle) aka the VBCI 25, driver is seated front left (has his own cupola with three periscopes) with the engine too his right. The troop commander is sited behind him and exits via the troop compartment ramp in the rear with the 8 man troop. They are sited 4 men down each side of the vehicle (totalling 8). The gunner is located in the one man Dragar turret. The turret is equipped with a 25mm chain gun.
VPC (command post vehicle) The command post vehicle AKA VPC, 2 SIP stations with 7 users (+ crew), self-defence turret armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun.
Mortar Carrier Most likely a 88mm mortar mounted on an internal turntable and fired from within through a large roof hatch.
Anti-tank missile (short range) fitted with a ERYX launcher, which is a short-range SACLOS-based wire-guided anti-tank missile.
There are other variants proposed:
Armoured Personnel Carrier (up to 14 soldiers)
The French VBCI Infantry Fighting Vehicle Operators and Status
France – As of June 2012, the French Army has received 400 vehicles of the 630 ordered. Deliveries started in 2008. Nexter are manufacturing the vehicle at the rate of 100 vehicles a year and final deliveries will be completed in 2015. 13 VCBI have been deployed to Lebanon as part of the UN mission in the country.
The VBCI has also been deployed since June 2010 in Afghanistan.
Canada – On the 4th of September 2012, Nexter Systems announced it had submitted a bid in response to the Government of Canada’s Request for Proposals for the Close Combat Vehicle (CCV) program. The CCV program was eventually cancelled.
Great Britain – It was announced in February 2014 that the UK will be trialling the VBCI. As an incentive, France has stated that it will buy British Thales Watchkeeper WK450 if it buys the VBCI.
The French VBCI Infantry Fighting Vehicle Specifications
Weight and dimensions
Empty weight < 18 tonnes
Maximum combat weight < 28 tonnes
Payload 10 tonnes
Length (chassis) 7,80 m
Width (chassis) 2,98 m
Height (chassis) 2,26 m
Useful internal volume > 13 m3 (complies with the size criteria of 95% of the population by 2010)
Crew + combat team 2 + 9 men
High-performance aluminium hull.
Modular Add-on homogeneous metal armour (very high hardness steel, titanium) regenerable in combat, with growth potential.
Full NBC protection.
Fire-suppression system (engine compartment and crew compartment).
Protection against mines.
Anti-laser protection of optics.
Infrared decoy system (LIRE 30).
Système d’autoprotection GALIX
GALIX self-protection system.
Optimised thermal and radar signature.
8 drive wheels, of which 4 leading wheels with large clearance.
Enginer Diesel 550 HP.
Suspension Dual-purpose hydropneumatic/mechanical
Short steering lock system through one-sided braking
Turning diametere 17 m
Central tyre inflation system
Wheels fitted with a run-flat device limité
Speed 100 km/h
Range ~ 750 km
Ground clearance 50 cm
Step 70 cm
Trench 2 m
Fording 1,20 m ithout preparation, 1.50 with preparation.
Road and railway gauge
Air transport A400M
1-man 25 mm turret.
25 mm x 137 NATO dual-feed cannon (see Type 25 M 811 cannon entry).
Observation, sighting and firing capability at the commander’s station in the chassis.
Fire-control system incorporating laser rangefinder and thermal camera.
7.62 mm NATO coaxial machine gun.
Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF)
Ergonomics – human factors
Driver’s field of view
Vehicle commander’s field of view: 300° with the periscopic vision and 360° with panoramic day sight and thermal panoramic observation equipment; day/night visionit.
Infantrymen field of view
Rapid boarding and dismounting through rear ramp
Internal and external stowage intended for personnel carried aboard
Air conditioning system
Command and control
The VCBI packs the latest digital equipment. The troop commanders SIT (Système d’Information Terminal) is put together by EADS Defence Electronics Systems who supply the hardware, and Nexter with their FINDERS Battle Management System software.