The VAB (Vehicule de l’Avant Blinde) front-line armoured vehicle is an infantry corps tactical armoured vehicle produced by Nexter Systems (formerly Giat Industries) with headquarters at Versailles in France.
A joint venture company, Satory Military Vehicles, was set up by Giat and Renault Trucks to be responsible for the VAB series and a number of other vehicles including the AMX-10RC and the French Army’s new VBCI wheeled infantry fighting vehicle. In September 2003, it was decided to wind up this company and reorganise relations between the two companies.
It was determined that Giat would be prime contractor and have responsibility for marketing of the VBCI, the AMX 10P and AMX 10RC. Renault Trucks Defense is prime contractor and has responsibility for marketing of the VAB.
VAB armoured fighting vehicle history
Since 1976, more than 5,000 VABs have been produced in 30 different versions. 376 VABs were used in Operation Desert Storm and VAB has been deployed in United Nations peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Cambodia, Croatia, Lebanon, Rwanda and Somalia.
The VAB has been selected for the armed forces of 15 countries, Brunei, Central African Republic, Cyprus, France, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritius, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The French Army has a fleet of almost 4,000 VAB vehicles.
In May 2008, Renault Trucks Defense awarded a contract to Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace to upgrade French Army VAB armoured personnel carriers with the Protector remote weapon station. Protector is also fitted to the US Army Stryker infantry carrier vehicle and can be armed with either a 0.50-calibre machine gun, 40mm grenade launcher or 7.62mm machine gun. Deliveries are scheduled through to 2016. The VAB vehicles are also to be fitted with full battle management capability.
VAB NG new generation armoured vehicle
The French Army has constantly carried out VAB enhancement programmes. Experience from combat has lead to the implementation of more than 1,100 improvements resulting in the design of the VAB new generation (VAB NG).
The VAB NG has been developed by Renault Trucks and Mecanique Creusot Loire, with Nexter Systems managing the export marketing activities. The VAB NG development programme and demonstration phase are complete and the vehicle is in series production.
The vehicle can be fitted with a selection of weapon systems including a 12.7mm or 25mm Dragar turret, an anti-tank missile launcher turret or a variety of mortar systems.
The 25mm Dragar turret from Alenia and Nexter is equipped with an electrically powered stabilised gun, fitted with thermal sights for night firing. The stabilisation system allows the gunner to maintain aiming accuracy on the move over rough terrain. The firing rate is up to 400 rounds a minute.
VAB NG has a steel hull and bullet-proof glazing which provide all-round protection against 7.62mm AP ammunition and the front of the vehicle provides protection against armour piercing rounds.
A splinter-absorbent liner can be fitted in the crew compartment and add-on armour with protection against 14.5mm armour-piercing ammunition can be fitted on the sides. The 180° windscreen and side windows are bullet proof, while the rear window is fitted with armoured shutters. A nuclear, chemical and biological warfare (NBC) protection system is integrated with the air conditioning system.
As well as the nuclear blast qualified armoured steel hull, the vehicle’s protection against mine blast includes add-on floor protection, a robust drive line, and suspension arms with blast energy absorption characteristics.
The tactical mobility of the VAB is the result of a high torque turbo diesel commercial engine, the Renault MIDR 062045 (300hp), a fully automatic gearbox, independent wheel suspension, large size wheels, short wheel-base, on-the-move central tyre inflation system and low ground pressure.
The VAB’s maximum torque at low engine speed, (1,200Nm at 1,200rpm) enables the crossing of difficult obstacles such as gradients, steps and trenches. Maximum road speed is 110km/h and the vehicle has an acceleration 0m-1,000m in 54 seconds.
The VAB is also fully amphibious. The water propulsion is by hydrojets giving a speed of 8.5km/h in water.
VAB armoured fighting vehicle variants
Versions of VAB armoured fighting vehicle currently being marketed are: amoured personnel carrier for two crew plus ten fully equipped troops; infantry fighting vehicle with 12.7mm or 25mm; DRAGAR turret; command post vehicle; anti-tank missile launcher turret; 81mm mortar carrier; 320mm heavy mortar tractor; ambulance; recovery vehicle fitted with a crane; anti-riot vehicle; and Nuclear, Biological and Chemical warfare (NBC) reconnaissance vehicle.
Optional equipment for the VAB includes self-protection grenade launcher, radio transceiver, intercom system, night driver’s periscope, night vision goggles and Global Positioning System (GPS) system. Various upgrade kits are available for the VAB including the conversion of the 4×4 vehicle into a 6×6.
A middle-axle assembly, comprising roadwheels and independent suspension is fitted and the braking system is adjusted.