The French Army took delivery of the last upgraded Nexter Véhicule Blindé de Combat d'Infanterie (VBCI) 8x8 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), the service’s spokesperson recently told Jane’s .
Ninety-five out of a total of 520 29.3-tonne Véhicule de Combat d'Infanterie (VCI) infantry fighting vehicles were modified to the 32-tonne version – 48 under a June 2013 contract and 47 under an August 2014 contract. The contract for the development of this version was awarded by the Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), the French procurement agency, to Nexter and Renault Trucks Defense on 20 December 2010. Qualification of the new version was announced on 24 September 2014.
In addition, another three DGA prototypes are now being upgraded by Nexter to the 32-tonne version by the end of the year.
Sixteen of the modified vehicles are currently fielded in overseas operations with a unit of the 35th Infantry Regiment, which will soon be replaced by a company from the ‘Marche du Tchad’ Regiment.
The upgrade was aimed at increasing the VBCI’s payload and protection, including installation of a slat armour system to protect against rocket-propelled grenades, a jamming system, and a 1.6-tonne under-belly mine and improvised explosive devices protection kit, the army said. The tires were replaced and the wheels were reinforced; the suspension, brakes, central tire inflation system, software and anti-roll bars were improved; and a steering assistance jack was added.
Between 2008 and 2015, France received 520 VCIs with Tarask turrets armed with a 25 mm 25M811 dual-feed cannon, and 110 Véhicule Poste de Commandement (VPC) command posts with 12.7 mm FN Herstal ARROWS remote weapon stations and Airbus SIR regimental information systems.
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