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VAB - Бронетранспортер (Франция)

Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé
VAB (armoured personnel carrier)

Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé
Type - Armoured personnel carrier
Place of origin - France
Service history
In service - 1976-present
Wars - Western Sahara War . Lebanese Civil War . Opération Épervier . Gulf War . Opération Turquoise . Bosnian War . War in Afghanistan . 2003-2004 Indonesian offensive in Aceh . Opération Licorne . Operation Serval . Opération Sangaris . Opération Barkhane . Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen . 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
Production history
Designer - GIAT Industries
Manufacturer - Renault Trucks Defense . MACK Defense
No. built - 5,000
Specifications
Mass - 13.8 tonnes (13.8 tonnes loaded)
Length - 5.98 m (19 ft 7 in)
Width - 2.49 m (8 ft 2 in)
Height - 2.06 m (6 ft 9 in)
Crew - 2
Passengers - 10
Armour - Steel armour providing protection against 7.62 mm bullets . Upgrades with MEXAS composite armour and mine protection
Main armament - 1 × AA52 7.62 mm machine gun or 1x M2 12.7 mm machine gun
Engine - Renault MIDS 062045 . 235 kW (320 hp)
Power/weight - 17 W/kg (23 hp/t)
Suspension - wheeled
Ground clearance - 0.4 m (1 ft 4 in)
Fuel capacity - 310 litres
Operational range - 1,200 km (750 mi)
Maximum speed - 110 km/h (68 mph) . 7.92 km/h in water

The Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé or VAB (literally meaning "Armoured Forward Vehicle"; but more appropriately translated: "Armoured Vanguard Vehicle") is a French armoured personnel carrier and support vehicle designed and manufactured by Renault Trucks Defense (now called Arquus). It entered service in 1976 and around 5,000 were produced. It has seen combat in various conflicts in Africa, Asia as well as Europe and has also been exported to more than 15 countries.
A polyvalent military vehicle, the VAB has more than thirty variants and sub-variants. Beyond their common primary role of transporting personnel and equipment in combat zones, some VAB are tailored for mechanized infantry combat, some fulfill the role of anti-tank missile launchers, some of self-propelled mortars, some are optimized for electronic warfare, others act as reconnaissance or artillery observation vehicles, etc.
As of 2019, it still is the standard APC of the French Army but is gradually being replaced by its successors, the VBMR Griffon (introduced in 2018) and the latter's four-wheeled version, the VBMR-L Serval (introduced in 2022).
Design
The VAB was designed as a wheeled troop transporter, complementing the tracked AMX-10P. Specifications for the project called for an NBC-proof, amphibious (Its propulsion in water is either by its wheels or twin water jets), lightly armoured vehicle to provide infantry with basic protection against shrapnel and light infantry weapons. These features were dictated by its possible usage in the event of an all-out conventional war breaking out against the Warsaw Pact; in particular, the amphibious capabilities were needed to bridge the rivers in Eastern France and in Germany.
Companies Panhard and Saviem/Renault answered the requirement, and the Renault prototype was selected in May 1974, with 4,000 units ordered. The first delivery occurred in 1976, and production continued at a rate of 30 to 40 units a month.
An armoured double-door at the rear allows access to the passenger compartment. Two inward-facing, foldable benches provide seating for 5 soldiers each. The crew enters the front compartment through two lateral hatches, the driver on the left and gunner on the right; two additional hatches in the roof give access to armaments and provide emergency exits. The front windows are bullet-proof and heated. All the windows can be further protected by armoured panels, which can be shut entirely or leaving a small observation slit. The engine is located behind the driver, while the right side of the vehicle is kept free, providing a passageway between the crew and passenger compartments.
With a modest 13-tonne mass, the VAB can easily be airlifted for deployment abroad.
The VAB's large wheels allow it to sustain up to 60% grades and road/rail canting of up to 30%.
From 1998, the French Army's VABs underwent three major overhauls:
 - replacement of the manual gear by an automatic transmission (T1)
 - replacement of the brakes and automatic tire pressurization (T2)
 - armour upgrade (T3)
These overhauled vehicles are known as VAB Valorisé. From 1990, the VAB NG (new generation) with improved armour and new engine was offered. In the 2000s, Renault offered engine upgrades to any VABs in service from MAN diesel engines to Renault MIDS 06 20 45 turbocharged diesel engines by removing the torque converterer oil reservoir bracket, modifying the existing right-hand engine bracket and the installation of a cooling unit.
In 2003, Renault Trucks Défense took over marketing the VAB from GIAT. At Eurosatory 2010, Renault unveiled the heavier VAB MkII, with more internal space and Level 4 protection. The MkII version was also shown in the BRIDEX 2011 convention.
In Eurosatory 2012; the VAB MkIII was presented publicly, being a new vehicle with better protection against IEDs and anti-vehicle mines up to STANAG Level 4 protection. Armored plating against RPG rockets is made in collaboration with Plasan.
It's being marketed only in a 6x6 wheeled configuration with either a Renault MD7 engine developing 340 hp or a Caterpillar C7 developing 370 hp with automatic transmission.
Armour upgrade
The upgrade of the VAB with MEXAS composite armour aimed at increasing from protection against light infantry weapons to protection against heavy machine guns, typically 12.7 mm projectiles. This increased the weight of the vehicles by about two tonnes, thereby losing its amphibious capabilities.
The amphibious shape of the hull, the relatively light weight and the armour upgrade seem to give the VAB strong resistance against mines. When exposed to an explosion from below, the VAB tends to be lifted in the air, allowing the force of the blast to disperse away from the vehicle. In particular, the hull shape and position of the wheels deflects the shock wave, helping maintain hull integrity.
Turrets
The heavy machine gun version of the Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé carries a M2HB 12.7 mm machine gun in an open turret; the light version sports the AA52 7.5 mm machine gun in a similar arrangement.
In both cases, the gunner's only protection from incoming fire is an armoured panel on the front and the two halves of the hatch door on the sides, giving little protection against indirect fire, surprise attacks and explosions - or if the VAB rolls over. As of July 2007, all the personnel killed by mines aboard VABs had occupied the gunner position (though serious injuries were sometimes sustained by crewmen inside the hull).
From 2007, the Army head of staff repeatedly requested that remotely operated 12.7 mm turrets be fitted on these vehicles, as a crash requirement. A program was launched, scheduling turret and battle command upgrades for over 500 VABs, now labeled VAB TOP (tourelle TéléOPérée). In May 2008, Renault Trucks Defense signed an eight-year, 20 million euro contract with Kongsberg Gruppen of Norway, for equipping the VAB with subsidiary Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace's Protector Remote Weapon Station (RWS). Deliveries were scheduled from 2009 to 2016.
From early 2009 onwards, about 60 VAB-TOP were deployed in Afghanistan, seeing their first combat during the Battle of Alasay. Field experience shows a significant drop in ammunition consumption with the tele-operated turret, whose computer allows the operator to fire efficient single shots, rather than bursts. This partially alleviates concerns raised by the need to reload this turret from outside.
Replacement
Replacement of the VAB is scheduled for around 2020. A diesel-electric vehicle stemming from the EBM10-EBM20 programme is due to be selected. The Armoured Multirole Carrier has been cited as a strong contender.
Combat history
VABs have been deployed in virtually all theatres where French infantry troops were present, notably Kuwait, Côte d'Ivoire, Yugoslavia, and Chad. French troops supporting ISAF in Afghanistan also use the VAB. During the Uzbin valley ambush, a VAB was hit by a rocket propelled grenade, with no injuries. One soldier manning the rooftop machine gun of a VAB was later killed when the road collapsed under his vehicle and it rolled over. In March 2009, a VAB driver was killed by a rocket attack during the battle of Alasay.
Africa
VABs belonging to the Royal Moroccan Army (FAR) have seen heavy combat during the conflict with Polisario rebels of the Western Sahara.
Middle East
A total of 95 VABs were delivered to the Lebanese Army between 1981 and 1984, being extensively employed during the Lebanese Civil War, with several vehicles serving under the Shia Amal Movement militia banner after the Army's predominantly Shia 6th Infantry Brigade went over to their coreligionists in February 1984. After the end of the war in the 1990s, additional VABs were delivered to the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) for use in the escort and internal security roles.
Variants
Variants may be 4×4 or 6×6 wheels, the 6×6 yielding a 10% increase in cost. The French military only uses 4-wheel versions, while export versions mainly are 6×6s.
The following VAB variants are/were made:
VAB MK 3, 6x6 APC version- A highly improved version of the VAB with better performance in terms of mobility protection in payload.
VAB VTT (Véhicule Transport de Troupe) - 4x4 APC version, crew of two and ten passengers and standard pintle mount for various compatible machine guns.
VAB TOP (tourelle TéléOPérée) - VTT 4x4 fitted with a Kongsberg Protector (RWS) with 12.7 mm machine gun and ceramic add-on armour.
VAB AZURE (Action en Zone URbaine) - Urban warfare vehicle equipped with a dozer blade and with panoramic periscopes to observe and monitor.
VAB ELI (élément léger d'intervention) - light recovery vehicle.
VAB MILAN - French army variant of the VTT, fitted with a pintle mount for the MILAN system at the rear hull roof.
VAB AT4CS - French army variant of the VTT, used by anti-tank teams armed with the AT4CS 84 mm portable rocket launcher.
VAB Eryx - French army variant of the VTT, used by anti-tank teams armed with the Eryx system.
VAB RATAC - Artillery target acquisition vehicle, carries a DR-PC 1a RATAC doppler radar with a range of 20 km.
VAB RASIT - Reconnaissance vehicle, carries the DR-PT 2a RASIT ground surveillance radar.
VAB PC (Poste de Commandement) - Command vehicle with a crew of 6 and equipped with map tables and additional signals equipment.
VAB SIR (Système d'Information Régimentaire) - Digital regimental C4ISTAR information system.
VAB Bromure - Electronic warfare vehicle.
VAB Echelon - Maintenance and repair vehicle.
VAB Génie - Engineering vehicle that can be fitted with a light obstacle clearing blade or can be used to tow a trailer with mine-clearing charges.
VAB SAN (sanitaire) - Armoured ambulance with room for 5 stretchers or 10 sitting passengers.
VAB Reco - NBC reconnaissance vehicle.
VAB ATLAS (Automatisation des Tirs et Liaisons Sol-sol pour l'artillerie) - Artillery fire command and control vehicle, successor of the VAB ATILA.
VAB SGEA (Système de Guerre Electronique de l'Avant) - Electronic warfare variant.
VAB Rapsodie (Radar d'Acquisition Polyvalent pour la Surveillance et l'Observation Destiné à l'Interarmes) - Reconnaissance vehicle with radar.
VBR (Véhicule Blindé de Reconnaissance) - Similar to VIB but used by Génie de l'Air and fitted with a Capre turret with 20 mm F2 gun.
VCAC "Mephisto" (Véhicule de Combat Anti-Char) - Anti-tank vehicle, carries the Euromissile Mephisto system with four ready-to-fire HOT anti-tank missiles and eight more in reserve.
VCI T.20/13 (Véhicule de Combat de l'Infanterie) - VAB equipped with a turret mounted 20 mm gun recovered from old AMX-VCIs and refurbished and intended for fire support and for counter sniping.
VIB (Véhicule d'Intervention sur Base) - IFV version fitted with the Toucan system, a tele-operated turret fitted with a 20 mm cannon and a AA52 7.62 mm machine-gun. Used by the French Air Force for airfield defence.
VIT (Véhicule d'Implantation Topographique) - Vehicle for topographic teams of field artillery units.
VOA (Véhicule d'Observation d'Artillerie) - Artillery observation vehicle, fitted with a turret with day/night observation devices, laser range finder etc. This version is normally found in units equipped with the TR F1 towed 155 mm howitzer. The VAB OBS is an improved version.
VTM 120 (Véhicule Tracteur de Mortier) - Mortar towing vehicle, can carry 70 bombs for the Thomson-Brandt MO-120 mortar.
VAB 2R2M - self-propelled mortar 120 mm.
VBC-90: Armoured car variant with a 90 mm gun in a turret. In service with the Mobile Gendarmerie until 2004.
VAB Ultima - Upgrades to the VAB against IEDs and land mines with added blast seats not fixed to the floor, Sagem SITEL comm equipment and FELIN battery chargers. Equipped with Protector RCWS for either a machine gun or AGL.
VAB SAN (Sanitaire - Sanitary) CIED (Counter-IED) - Upgrades to the VAB for ambulance purposes for French forces operating in the Sahel as jihadi forces tend to target them with explosives and IEDs.
Versions reserved for export:
VAB 4x4 VCI T.20 (Véhicule de Combat de l'Infanterie) - Export version of the VCI T.20/13, fitted with a one-man T.20 turret. In service with Cyprus.
VAB 6x6 ECH (ECHelon) - Maintenance vehicle (with crane).
VAB 6x6 VCI Toucan (Véhicule de Combat de l'Infanterie) - Similar to the VCI T.20/13 but based on the VAB 6x6.
VAB 6x6 VPM 81 (Véhicule Porte-Mortier) - Mortar carrier with an 81 mm mortar firing through a roof opening. In service with Oman.
VAB 6x6 VDAA TA20 (Véhicule de Défense AntiAérienne) - Low-altitude air-defence vehicle, armed with a double 20 mm gun in a TA 20 turret. In service with Oman, Morocco and the Central African Republic.
VCAC 6x6 UTM800 - Anti-tank vehicle, carries the Euromissile UTM800 turret, with four ready-to-launch HOT missiles, and 16 more in reserve. In service with Qatar and Cyprus.
VBMO (Véhicule Blindé de Maintien de l'Ordre) - Police version for crowd control, fitted with a light dozer blade and optionally a TOI turret. In service with Oman, Morocco and Abu Dhabi.
VDAA SANTAL (Véhicule de Défense Anti-Aérienne, Systeme Anti-aerien Autonome Leger) - Anti-aircraft version with turret carrying two 20 mm cannon. Nine purchased by Oman National Guard.
The French Gendarmerie also procured a small batch (about twenty) of up-armoured VABs, for use in Afghanistan. These vehicles have now (2018) been redeployed either to Versailles-Satory (near Paris) or to French New Caledonia.
Foreign-made versions:
MACK Lakota: A variant of the VAB Mark III, most of its parts made in America by Mack Defense via JWF Defense Systems in 6x6 and 8x8 variants, which was announced in June 2016. It was first shown publicly in AUSA 2014 and AUSA 2015. Its hull is also assembled in America. It was sold in 2016 to an unnamed customer in the Middle East.
Operators
As of 2019, it's known that the VAB is exported to more than 40 countries.
Current operators
 France:
French Army: 3,900 VAB in 35 different versions.
French Air Force (VIB, véhicule blindé d'intervention, or véhicule d'intervention sur base).
 Brunei: To be phased out once Pindad Anoas are purchased instead of originally contracting Pindad to retrofit them.
 Central African Republic: 10.
 Chad: 25; around 40 VABs given by the French Army in 2008.
 Cyprus
 Gabon: 5.
 Indonesia
 Italy: 15 vehicles CBRN variant.
 Ivory Coast: 13.
 Kuwait
 Lebanon: Lebanese Armed Forces, Internal Security Forces (Police).
 Mauritius
 Morocco: 400 vehicles.
 Oman
 Qatar
 Saudi Arabia: Announced that 100 VAB Mk 3s would be taken to service in 2016, which was supposed to be supplied to Lebanon.
 United Arab Emirates
 Ukraine: French Ministry of Armed Forces announced in June 2022 that "significant quantities" of armed VAB will be delivered to Ukraine as part of France's military aid in the context of 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Former operators
 Amal Movement militia (1984-1990)
 Georgia: the Georgian security company of Camp Warehouse, as part of the ISAF, used VAB loaned by the French Army in the Kabul area in 2009-2011.

Comparable vehicles
WZ551
Anoa (armoured personnel carrier)
Patria Pasi
TPz Fuchs

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