Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR SEP 2014 Contents 9
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 02 | SEP 2014
LONDON - The entente cordiale lives
on. At least in terms of military hardware
co-operation. For now.
The British Army has begun trials of
the French Nexter Systems Véhicule
Blindé de Combat d’Infanterie (VBCI)
8×8 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV).
DTR can confirm the trials will last until
the second quarter of 2015 and involve
vehicles loaned from the French Army’s
training fleet. The British Ministry of De-
fence (MoD) is conducting the test pro-
gram in tandem with its French counter-
part and will meet the associated support
and training costs.
“The British Army is examining the
potential use of wheeled medium weight
capabilities. VBCI vehicles are being
used as part of this trial to inform our
approach and are due to conclude next
year,” an MoD spokesperson told DTR.
A total of 19 vehicles are involved in
the trial (codenamed Project Brittany),
including 16 IFV variants, with the equip-
ment sourced through a bilateral agree-
ment with France.
The British Army is testing the VBCI
as part of the rekindled Future Rapid
Effects System (FRES) Utility Vehicle
program, intended to start replacing the
current fleet of protected mobility vehi-
cles by 2022. The VBCI trial will assess
doctrinal considerations of the wheeled
medium weight brigade concept. Some-
what ironically, the UK MoD passed over
the VBCI for the original FRES require-
ment in 2008.
Developed in partnership with Renault
Trucks Defense (RTD), the VBCI has
been designed from the outset as an
IFV to accompany main battle tanks to
assault onto an objective.
At Eurosator y 2014 in June, Nexter
displayed a VBCI with various enhance-
ments to address deficiencies highlight-
ed during operations and recent trials.
These reportedly include improved pro-
tection levels, a repositioned fuel tank,
increased rear internal volume achieved
by relocating electrical equipment to the
front of the vehicle and steering for the
rear-most axle set, reducing the turning
radius to 20m.
An upgraded powerpack and suspen-
sion is also understood to have been
adopted to cope with an increase in
the vehicle’s potential growth margin by
several tonnes. This work is being un-
dertaken in concert with RTD and Volvo,
following on from a French MoD
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British trialling French VBCI 8x8
The 19 loan VBCIs taking part in the
British Army trials will be sourced from
French Army training stocks.
Image: French MoD
contract awarded in early 2014.
Of 630 vehicles ordered by the French
Army, more than 550 are now in service
after being introduced in 2008. Final
VBCI deliveries are scheduled for 2015.
French media reports link a mooted
French order for the British Watchkeep-
er WK450 unmanned aerial vehicle with
a twinned British order for the VBCI, a
deal that has had no public backing by
defence sources in London.
A company from the 4 Rifles light in-
fantry battalion travelled to France in
August to be trained up on the VBCI by
the French Army before participating in
trial activities on recently upgraded VBCI
vehicles alongside French troops.
The trials are being conducted at
the sprawling Canjures military base in
the south of France (Western Europe’s
largest military establishment and the
main French Army training centre for the
VBCI). This will be followed by training
alongside the 1st Tirailleurs regiment in
Mourmelon in the northeast of France.
– Simon Kent,
VBCI EXPANDS TURRET OPTIONS
Nexter chose Eurosatory 2014 to unveil
its VBCI fitted with a remotely-operated
OTO Melara HITFIST OWS (Overhead
Weapon Station) 30mm.
With the French Army VBCI production
run coming to a close next year, Nexter
is keen to secure export orders for the
Whilst the French Army version of
VBCI is equipped with the operationally-
proven Tarask one-man 25mm turret, the
promotion of the HITFIST OWS 30mm
is recognition that a 25mm cannon main
armament is unlikely to be taken up by
future customers in a market where
30mm appears to be the lowest common
denominator for medium-calibre cannon
in the 25-35 tonne armoured fighting
The HITFIST OWS 30mm is armed with the seemingly ubiquitous ATK Armament Systems
Mk 44 dual-feed 30mm cannon and 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. Fitted with a Gen II infrared
camera, day colour TV camera, laser rangefinder for the gunner and panoramic stabilised day/
night sight or panoramic thermal imager for the commander, the weapon can be elevated to
+75° and depressed to -10°. Weight is 1,650kg at STANAG Level 3 protection.
The VBCI can also be offered to customers with the HITFIST-30P two-man turret. The
VBCI-HITFIST-30P combination was proposed for the now cancelled Canadian Close
Combat Vehicle (CCV) project, where a trials vehicle underwent test and evaluation at the US
Aberdeen Proving Ground in late 2011.
ABOVE: A VBCI at Eurosatory 2014 fitted with the OTO Melara OWS 30mm.
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