Nexter and its VBCI (Véhicule blindé de combat d’infanterie or armoured combat infantry vehicle) is continuing its programme of seduction in the United Kingdom. The French defence systems group and its competitors in the British Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) project all made the trip to the Defence Vehicle Dynamics (DVD) show organised in early September on the Milbrook training ground north of London.
The aim of the MIV programme is to buy an off-the-shelf 8×8 vehicle incorporating a minimum of “Made in the UK” sub-systems. The DVD show was an opportunity to discover the VBCI’s potential adversaries: Patria’s AMV XP, ST Kinetics’ Terrex 3, ARTEC’s Boxer, General Dynamics and its Piranha V, and General Dynamics Land Systems’ LAV.
The MIV programme is for the procurement of between 300 to 350 platforms which would be operational by 2023. The vehicles would come in five variants: troop transport, command, ambulance, recovery and repair. According to Britain’s National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 White Paper, the vehicles would be deployed alongside the Ajax in two new Strike Brigades. On 28th March, so nearly six months ago, the British Defence Ministry declared that a competition would soon be launched… but without declining what it understood by “soon”.
If the basic design of the MIV is likely to incorporate the remote controlled Protector turret made by Norwegian firm Kongsberg armed with a 12.7 mm gun, the United Kingdom is also considering acquiring a more robust version. This option could be in the favour of Nexter and its 40mm CTAS (Cased Telescoped Armament System) for the future Ajax vehicles, the CTAS being jointly developed with BAE Systems in the framework of their CTAI International joint venture.
Far from being an unknown entity on the other side of the Channel, the VBCI has already been put through its paces by the British Army (in 2014). It is regularly at the heart of joint military manœuvres organised by Paris and London, such as last April’s Griffin Strike 2016. Modular and air-transportable by an A400M, the VBCI can carry up to nine fully equipped infantrymen. The French army, which has 630 VBCI’s in its inventory, has already successfully deployed it in Afghanistan, Mali and the Central African Republic.