Nexter (Stand S9-260) is continuing to invest in its VBCI (8x8) armoured vehicle to meet potential export customers’ requirements, including the UK Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme.
The Nexter Roanne facility has now delivered 630 VBCI to the French Army in two versions: infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (520) and command post (110).
The IFV has a one-person turret armed with a stabilised 25mm cannon and 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, which can also be laid onto the target by the commander, who is seated in the hull on the left side to the rear of the driver.
The command post vehicle has a roof-mounted remote weapon station (RWS) armed with a stabilised .50 machine gun.
The VBCI has seen extensive operational use by the French Army in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Lebanon and Mali, and in the latter case it deployed some 2,500km without the use of heavy equipment transporters.
To meet different user requirements, the VBCI can be fitted with various weapon systems, up to a 120mm low-recoil gun.
The VBCI shown at DSEI has the Kongsberg Protector RWS armed with a stabilised .50 machine gun and a Javelin antitank guided missile mounted externally.
The commander (right), gunner (left) and driver are all provided with flat-panel displays from the UK and a boiling vessel is fitted as standard in the rear troop compartment.
The vehicle also has a raised roof line for greater internal volume, emergency lighting, the latest blast-attenuating seats and revised stowage in either side of the hull.
The all-welded aluminium hull can be fitted with various appliqué passive armour solutions, plus rocket-propelled grenade net-type protection systems, which were fitted to some French vehicles for deployment to Afghanistan.
The most recent development for the export market is fitting the latest Nexter Systems T40 two-person turret armed with a CTA International 40mm Case Telescoped Armament System (CTAS) cannon and a roof-mounted RWS with a 12.7mm machine gun.
While the last production VBCI was handed to the French Army several years ago, the production line has been used to upgrade 95 vehicles in two batches (48 plus 47), with the last of these recently handed over. There is potential for future French army upgrades for additional VBCI.
Nexter stresses that the production line and the supply base are still in existence and production would recommence when additional orders are placed.
Standard VBCI have a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of approximately 29 tonnes, but the latest export version has a GVW of up 32 tonnes, upgraded suspension and a more powerful Volvo engine developing 600hp, coupled to an automatic transmission. This has been fully qualified by the French Army.