VCR (Véhicule de Combat ŕ Roues)
Following the success of its AML, and the 4 x 4 M3 range of armored vehicles, Panhard continued to develop the 6 x 6 ERC armored cars and 6 x 6 VCR troop transport, which were equipped with same components; engine, transmission, steering and wheels.
The VCR (Véhicule de Combat ŕ Roues) range of 6 × 6 armored personnel carriers was developed by Panhard as a private venture from 1975 for the Iraqi programme to find a platform for the 100 Euromissile UTM-800 four-round HOT anti-tank guided missile turrets ordered in September 1974. The range was first shown for the export market in 1977 at the Satory Exhibition of Military Equipment and entered production at Panhard's Marolles factory the following year. The prototype VCR appeared in 1977, the first copies of series not being completed until two years later. The VCR, designed specifically for export, was sold to the Argentina, the Iraq and the United Arab Emirates. First production VCR vehicles, equipped with the one-person Euromissile UTM 800 turret, were completed in 1979. The VCR armored personnel carriers use 95 percent of the automotive components of the Panhard ERC range of 6 × 6 armored cars which was also shown for the first time in 1977.
The all-welded steel hull of the VCR/TT (Transport de Troupes) protects the crew against small arms fire and shell splinters. The floor of the hull consists of two plates welded together ina flat 'V', which helps the vehicle to slide off obstacles and also offers resistance to damage from mines. The driver sits at the front of the hull in the centre and has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the right with three integral day periscopes for forward observation, the center one replaceable by an image intensification periscope for driving at night.
The VCR hull consists entirely welded steel ranging in thickness from 8 to 12 mm; the front of the vehicle is virtually identical to that of the troop transport 4 x 4 Panhard M3. The driver sits at the front; behind him, on the right, is the engine, and to his left stands the Chief of car. The two men have a hatch and episcopes. The troop compartment at the rear, opens with two doors at the bottom of the box, and is provided, in its upper part, hatches opening onto the roof and shooting slots. Armament is normally mounted at the front of the troop compartment to the rear of the commander's position in the roof. It can contain either machine guns 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm on pivot, or a turret equipped with similar weapons, or even a 20 mm cannon. When armed with a 7.62 mm machine gun the VCR/TT can carry nine men plus its crew of three (commander, driver and gunner, who sits on one of the bench seats when not manning the machine gun) but when heavy armament is installed, such as a 20 mm cannon, only six infantrymen can be carried plus a crew of three.
The peculiarity of the VCR lies in its motor, traction on six wheels, but as power for the nosewheel steering. On the road, the two central wheels are raised. The VCR, fully amphibious, is propelled in water by its wheels at a speed of 4 km/h. Customers can get optional air conditioning, passive night vision devices, an NBC protection system and a winch at the front that can troubleshoot other vehicles.
The first model produced was the VCR/TH anti-tank vehicle, which the Iraq bought 106 copies. This gear is equipped with a turret Euromissile UTM 800 with four HOT ATGW into launch position, and ten other missiles in the cashier. On the rear of the compartment of the troops is installed a 7.62 mm machine gun, remote-controlled. The crew of the VCR/TH is of three men. This vehicle was involved in the fighting between the Iran and Iraq.
The ambulance, or VCR/IS, version is higher to allow medical staff to stand. It may contain six seated casualties and two lying on a stretcher, as well as the three members of the crew: the chief, the driver and a paramedic. This model has been sold to the United Arab Emirates. The command post version is the VCR/PC, equipped with apparatus for transmissions and topographic maps; version vehicle troubleshooting VCR/AT, with a pulley and a hoist for lifting engines and other components; It is equipped with all kinds of tools and spare parts, but not a hoist.
In the “Army Achievements 2018 and Challenges 2019”, published in January 2019 , the General Staff of the Army indicated that “among the main material developments planned for 2019 , several stand out”, such as the “ reception of the first 5 technological demonstrators of the 8x8 wheeled combat vehicle . Operational evaluation tests will be carried out on them, both of the vehicles and of the technological programs associated with them ”. The first units of the 8x8, in principle, should go to the Legion Brigade (Brileg) base in Viator, Almería, where the facilities had to be expanded in anticipation of the arrival of this vehicle. The Brileg acts as Experimental Brigade 2035, and is designated to test the 8x8s.
The Spanish government in December 2019 canceled the €2.083 billion contract previously awarded to the Santa Barbara Sistemas unit of General Dynamics European Land Systems for the production of 348 Piranha 5 wheeled armored vehicles, having decided that Santa Barbara’s final offer was “not admissible” for technical, operational and economic reasons.
The February 2020 decision of the General Directorate of Armament and Material of the Ministry of Defense to declare the contract in which Santa Bárbara Sistemas worked void opened a stage of indefiniteness, in which the department of Margarita Robles evaluated different alternatives. The 8x8 will replace the BMR , which according to the Ministry of Defense itself are "already obsolete and with their life cycle fully exceeded."
The Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, under Article 346 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, signed a commitment 13 May 2020 that will allow the incorporation of the Corporation, made up of Spanish companies Indra Sistemas SA, Santa Bárbara Sistemas SA, Sapa Placencia SL and Escribano Mechanical & Engineering SL, for the sole purpose of executing the 8X8 Wheeled Combat Vehicles Program (VCR 8X8), After this signing, a tender period begins with the intention that said contract can be signed during the third quarter of 2020.
The proposal of these companies satisfies the needs of the Spanish Army, by allowing to retain the design authority in Spain and favor a high participation of the national industry in a percentage of not less than 70%. The industrial plan of this program is going to have very positive effects on the national economy, having special incidence in Asturias, Seville, Guipúzcoa and Madrid, where the creation of 650 direct jobs and another 1,000 indirect jobs is expected.
In addition, this solution also guarantees the Army Army the maintenance of the 8x8 "Dragon", facilitating the control of obsolescence and the future incorporation of improvements to the vehicle as well as a significant workload for the national industry throughout its life cycle that will be not less than 40 years.
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