The Chaimite range of wheeled armored vehicles was designed by Bravia to meet the needs of the Portugese armed forces to conduct counter-insurgency operations in Africa in the 1960s. The armored personnel carrier [APC] is used by both the cavalry and the infantry to carry out some offensive missions if outfitted with the necessary equipment.
The last battles for the survival of Mozambique from the clutches of Portuguese colonialism was fought in 1895. A small military contingent of whites and black helpers, Joaquim Mousinho de Albuquerque - the most famous figure in the history of Mozambique - marched on 26 December 1895 against the most powerful ruler in in Portuguese East Africa [modern Mozambique], Gungunhana, the King of Gazaland, was captured by the Portuguese forces at Chaimite, the old Gaza capital, in January 1896. With his seven wives and his son, Godide, was brought to Lisbon in March 1896. These bold deeds in the 1895 campaign and the surprise kidnapping of Mozambique's most powerful African leader made Mouzinho de Albuquerque - dashing, charismatic and a suicide - a hero in Portugal.
The US was openly hostile to the Portuguese presence in Africa during the decade of the 1960s. On the African issue, Portugal was criticised by most of the international community, and Portugal had allies only in South Africa and Rhodesia, and in Europe counted only with France, Germany and Spain. These last three accepted breaking the 1961 UN embargo on arms sales to Portugal, and the Germans and French become the main suppliers of military equipment (although, in many cases, at "embargo prices"). In contrast, the US (which had decreed a unilateral embargo on Portugal) and the UK, allies in NATO, agreed only to provide equipment that was not destined for Africa.
Following the refusal by the US government to provide armored vehicles to the Portuguese Army in the early 1960s, Portugal began to develop its own APC in 1964. The company "BRAVIA SARL, Luso-Brazilian Society of vehicles and equipment" was founded in March 1967, and soon finalised plans for a vehicle similar to the V-100 "Commando". The first prototype of the Chaimite was manufactured in the workshops of General Engineering Material, in Belem, with an American engineer hired under tight security measures.
After this prototype was evaluated, the army ordered 28 vehicles in 1967. Despite some disappointment - the manufacturer of course wanted to sell more - hulls of Chaimites begin to be manufactured at the SOREFAME (Companies Gathered to Metal Fabrications), which was devoted to the construction of locomotives and carriages for the railways. At the end of 1970 the first Chaimites are sent to Guinea to be tested in the war. The Chaimites in Guinea, used particularly in escorts on routes, were subjected to various ambushes, some with fatal consequences for the occupants. Only a few Chaimites eventually get to step on African soil. At the time of decolonisation process these vehicles were deployed several times in Luanda in maintenance of public order and were operational until November 10, 1975.
At the beginning of the year 1980 [by which time Portugal had lost its colonies in Africa and the arms embargo had ended] the Portuguese Army began to think seriously about modernisation of the Chaimite, which had a variety of problems that required resolution. The option that was taken - and implemented from 1985 - was to assign this contract to the American Cadillac Gage company. Cadillac Gage, which built the Commando for the US Armed Forces, had previously accused Portuguese circles of having copied the plans for its armored car.
In 1970 the BRAVIA got its first foreign order, from the Marine infantry of Peru. This was an important step in the expansion of the company. V-200 cars were sold to Lebanon in 1980 and Libya and the Philippines acquired a few copies of of the V-200, along with Iran, Venezuela, Malaysia, and Myanmar. The various countries to which Bravia had exported the Chaimite confirmed the better quality of the Portuguese product, which had some improvements over Cadillac Gage's original model. Portugal probably sold over 500 Chaimite armored cars in their V150/V200 version to countries in Latin America and the Middle East.
The armored steel hull of the Chaimite provides protection from small arms fire up to 7.62 mm NATO ammunition. In the basic version, this APC has an 11-man capacity, the crew consisting of 3 members. The driver sits towards the front of the vehicle with the second crew member, the commander, to his right. They are covered by a two-piece hatch that opens on the either side of the vehicle. Access is either by one of two doors (divided into two parts) positioned on each side of the vehicle or by one door on the rear. The V-200 is equipped with a one-person designed turret built by Bravia : this turret has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear. The armament depends on the variant: either two 7.62 mm machine guns, or two 5.56 mm machine guns or one 7.62 mm (0.30) and one .50 (12.7 mm) machine gun.
In the Portuguese army of the 1980s, the main nucleus of vehicles consisted of the Chaimite, an improved Portuguese version of the American V-100 Commando. Portugal had large numbers of these (over 300, according to some sources, as of 1983). This APC had several versions: there was an antiaircraft version (with a twin-tube or quadruple gun), one with a 90mm gun, another with rocket launchers and recoilless rifles, and still other models with antitank missiles or simply with FN MAG machineguns. The Chaimite vehicle is amphibious and can carry a maximumof 12 infantrymen. It is one of the most versatile vehicles of its kind.
The BRAVIA- Sociedade Luso Brasileira de Viaturas e Equipamentos entered bankruptcy in 1987, but the bankruptcy proceedings dragged on for years.
The Portuguese Army as well as the international client BRAVIA, used the V200, the only model produced by the factory. Although BRAVIA released projects with other designations (V-400 V, V-300-500, 600-V, V-700, V-800, 900-V and V-1000), these never materialize for serial production. The Portuguese Army vehicles transformed for missiles SS-11 and 81 mm mortar are sometimes incorrectly referred to as adopting these designations of BRAVIA, but in fact they retained the V-200 designation.
- V-200 ~ Basic vehicle with mg armament.
- V-200 [Variant 1] ~ Fire support vehicle.
- V-200 [Variant 2] ~ Pintle mounted 50cal on fixed turret.
- V-200 [Variant 3] ~ Pintle mounted 30cal on fixed turret.
- V-200 [Variant 4] ~ Twin LMG turret.
- V-300 ~ 20mm cannon turret.
- V-300 [S530 Turret] ~ SAMM S530 air defence turret.
- V-300 [Variant 1] ~ Twin LMG turret.
- V-300 [Variant 2] ~ HMG/LMG turret.
- V-400 [Production] ~ French Lynx turret.
- V-400 [Prototype] ~ French Lynx turret and 90mm gun.
- V-400 [Prototype Variant 1] ~ cast turret and Cockerill gun.
- V-500 ~ Command or communications.
- V-600 ~ Mortar carrier.
- V-700 ~ Fitted with turreted ATGM launcher.
- V-800 ~ Ambulance.
- V-900 ~ Crash rescue vehicle.
- V-1000 ~ Internal security/Riot control.
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