The French Army has taken delivery of an additional vehicule de combat d'infanterie (VBCI), an eight-wheel drive infantry fighting vehicle (IFV).
Delivered by a consortium of Nexter Systems and Renault Trucks Defense, the vehicle represents the 500th VBCI to have been delivered as part of a contract that includes supply of a total of 630 vehicles.
Awarded by the French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), the contract features 520 infantry combat versions (VCI), and 110 command post (VPC) vehicles.
Powered by a Renault 550hp turbocharged diesel engine, VCBI is a wheeled IFV designed to safeguard infantry units against a broad spectrum of ballistic threats, such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) in the battlefield.
Capable of accommodating 11 soldiers wearing fantassin à equipements et liaisons intégrés (FELIN) soldier systems, and their associated kits in VCI version, the vehicle entered operational service with the French Army as a successor to the AMX10P armoured personnel carrier (APC) in 2008.
Engineered to reach a top speed of 90km/h, the 30t-class vehicle features improved observation and fire-support capabilities, BIFU combat identification system, NBC detection and protection equipment, as well as a secure data and voice communications system.
Armaments include Nexter Dragar single-seat turret, fully stabilised, dual-fed M811 25mm cannon and a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun for close defence and a Galix grenade launching system.
The vehicle has extensively been used by the French Army during operations in Afghanistan and Lebanon in 2010, as well as in Mali since the start of this year.
Shipments of VPC variants, which are fitted with EADS-built regimental information systems (SIR), was completed in May 2013, while the final vehicle under contract is set for delivery by 2015.
Including development and pre-production, the total cost of the VBCI programme is expected to around €2.86bn.
Image: French Army's VBCI 8x8 infantry fighting vehicle. Photo: Copyright Ministry of Defense 2013.