The SIBMAS is a range of Belgian 6X6 armored vehicles, including a 6x6 amphibious armored personnel carrier and fire-support vehicle. SIBMAS was developed during the mid-1970s as a private venture by BN Constructions Ferroviaires et Metalliques together with the German company MAN. The SIBMAS armored vehicle was intended primarily for export to the countries of Southeast Asia and Latin America. The first prototype was built in 1976. Externally and in layout, the vehicle is very similar to the South African BMP Ratel.
In 1978-1979. SIBMAS was tested in Malaysia, according to the results of which in 1981 it was adopted by the ground forces of this country. During the tests, the vehicle traveled about 25,000 km without serious damage. The Malaysian Royal Armoured Corps was skeptical of the need for a wheeled fire support vehicle attached to the mechanized infantry, which it criticised as a poor substitute for the acquisition of main battle tanks. The SIBMAS had also failed to meet several of the army's technical requirements. Its combat weight hovered close to 17 tonnes, while the procurement staff had specified a vehicle with a combat weight not to exceed 12 tonnes (later raised to 15 tonnes for 6X6 IFVs).
The Malaysian general staff had also been adamant it would only purchase an IFV with a proven production and sales record to avoid teething problems with a new product. However, the SIBMAS existed only in prototype form at the time of its adoption and had not yet seen operational service with the armed forces of another nation.
The EE-11 Urutu was seen by some of the procurement staff as a more suitable candidate for the army's needs, albeit modified for the IFV and fire support role: it was considerably cheaper than the SIBMAS, it had been combat tested in the Iran–Iraq War and had been in uninterrupted production for several years, and could meet the weight requirements. Proponents of the Urutu claimed that the SIBMAS was also belatedly entered into competition with the Urutu and other vehicles once the tender had already been closed.
In 1978 - 1979, the SIBMAS armored personnel carrier was tested in Malaysia, according to the results of which in 1981 it was adopted by the ground forces of this country. The Armed Forces ordered 162 vehicles in the AFSV-90 fire support variant. Deliveries were carried out in 1983-1985.
In 1983 the Malaysian Army placed an order for 150 Sibmas 6x6 AIFVs from Belgium and 450 Condor 4x4 APCs from Germany. From the UK, came 25 Scorpion light tanks and 25 Stormer MICVs. The Sibmas, armed with a Cockerill 90mm gun is used in the fire support role, along with the Scorpion light tank also armed with a Cockerill 90mm gun. An armored recovery variant of the Sibmas is also in service in Malaysia.
The SIBMAS carries a crew of three plus eleven passengers and is armed with a 90 mm Cockerill Mk III gun, a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and an anti-aircraft 7.62 mm machine gun. It has a top speed of 100 kmh and a range of 1000 km.
The vehicle could be configured for a wide variety of roles. A wide range of turret and armament can be fitted including machine guns, cannon and guns up to 90mm in calibre. The SIBMAS AFSV-90 variant still has the capability to carry combat troops. It can still fulfil the IFV role, but the total number of troops that can be carried decreases due to the 90mm ammunition storage. The Troop compartment has three entry doors, one each side and one at the rear. There is a roof hatch as well as firing ports and vision device for the occupants.
The body of the armored vehicle is made of steel armor plates, which provide protection against bullets of 7.62 mm caliber and detonation of antipersonnel mines. The control compartment is located in the front of the car, the driver's seat is located along the axis of the armored vehicle. The driver sits up front with the weapon station behind him. The driver has three periscopes to monitor the terrain. There is a hatch in the hull roof above the seat. Behind the control compartment are the places of the commander and the gunner. The troop compartment extends from behind the weapon station to the rear of the vehicle with the engine compartment at the left rear of the vehicle.
The troop compartment can accommodate up to 11 people (in the armored personnel carrier version). The hull has seven observation devices, interlocked with embrasures, three in each side and one in the rear door. A trooper with full equipment can urgently leave the vehicle in four seconds using two doors in the sides of the hull, one in the aft armor plate and three hatches in the roof of the hull.
The engine compartment is located on the left side at the rear of the hull. The engine is a six-cylinder water-cooled turbocharged diesel engine MAN D-2566MTFG with a capacity of 350 hp. The machine is equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission ZF. There is a large sunroof above the engine compartment for quick engine replacement. In the field, using a lightweight crane, two people can replace the engine in 30 minutes. The machine has three fuel tanks.
All three axles of the SIBMAS armored vehicle are leading, the wheel suspension is dependent spring. The armored vehicle is amphibious, movement afloat is carried out either by rotating the wheels, or using two propellers installed in the rear of the hull. The machine also has an air conditioner, a self-recovery winch and an engine heater for winter.
The armored vehicle can be equipped with turrets with various weapons, from a 7.62-mm machine gun to a 90-mm low-impulse cannon. On the roof of the SIBMAS AFSV-90 hull is a two-seat SM-90 turret armed with a 90-mm Cockerill cannon. Cockerill Mechanical Industries is an international group of companies based around the Belgian town of Liege. CMI's expertise lay mainly in energy, metal, transportation and defence. CMI Defence focuses on a small segment of the defence market. A 7.62-mm machine gun is paired with it and a 7.62-mm anti-aircraft machine gun mounted on the turret roof. Smoke grenade launchers (8 each) are installed on the sides of the tower, directed in all directions. Despite the fact that the AFSV-90 is a fire support vehicle (or BMTV according to the new classification), it also retained the functions of an armored personnel carrier, since there are places for 7 infantrymen in the troop compartment.
The SIBMAS ARV armored recovery vehicle was purchased by Malaysia from Belgium simultaneously with the AFSV-90 fire support vehicle in the amount of 24 units. BREM is equipped with two hydraulic winches with a pulling force of 20 tons and 10.5 tons and a hydraulic crane with a lifting capacity of 8 tons. A dozer blade is mounted in the front of the machine, which can be used as a coulter. In the aft part there are crew and stowage areas with the necessary repair equipment and spare parts. The BREM is armed with a 7.62-mm machine gun mounted on a pivot mount on the roof in front of the hatch.
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