The VBL (FRENCH: Véhicule Blindé Léger; ENGLISH: Light Armoured Vehicle) is a vehicle manufactured by the company Panhard. The vehicle was developed by an operational requirement by France in 1990 and has been used in mostly peacekeeping operations in Somalia, Kosovo and Bosnia.
The vehicle is lightly armoured and has protection against small arms, mines, nuclear, biological, chemical weapons and fragments from explosives. The vehicle is amphibious (Speed: 5.4 k/h) and recent copies of this type of vehicles can be seen as created by the Chinese who have mimicked the design and capabilities of the VBL; namely the VN-3. The vehicle is also transportable via large military transport aircraft such as the A400M, C-130 and C160.
Variants and Armaments (French)
VBL RECON 12.7: This variant is the reconnaissance (As referenced in the name) and light armed troop engagement variation. It is armed with a 50 calibre/12.7 mm machine gun (M2 MG) which is mounted on the left hand side of the vehicle with a protection ring mounted around the gunner and has a 360º turn angle. Optionally a grenade launcher can be fitted for firing anti-personnel FLY-K (PL 127).
VBL MILAN: This variant is an anti-tank vehicle which can fire the MILAN anti-tank missile with modified launcher fitted to the vehicles roof. It can carry 6 of these MILAN missiles which have up to a range of 2,000 metres and to help visibility it has the MIRA thermal imaging camera.
VBL AT4CS: This vehicle is also able to be fitted with the short range anti-tank missile called the AT-4CS. Range of fire is under 250 metres. Additionally with this version can be fitted a 7.62 mm machine guns of which the vehicle can hold 1,400 rounds.
VBL ERYX: Like the AT-4CS the VBL ERYX has a secondary weapons system mounted on the roof with a 7.62 mm machine gun which holds 1,400 rounds. The ERYX is able to fire at ranges of up to 600 metres.
VB2L: The VB2L is the command version of the VBL. It has two PR4G radios, as SSB radio for long range communications and a inter communication system for on-board communication between crew members.
VBL TOURELLE FERMEE: This vehicle is fitted with a RCWS (Remotely Controlled Turret System) which can be fitted with 50 calibre/12.7 mm machine gun, 40 mm automatic grenade launcher or a light 7.62 machine gun.
VBL CANNON: This vehicle is fitted with a 20 mm auto cannon mounted on the roof of the vehicle.
VBL MISTRAL: This carries two mounted MISTRAL anti-air surface to air missiles.
The vehicle houses a Peugeot XD3T turbocharged diesel engine which generates 105 horse power. The vehicle weighs between 3.5 tonnes to 4 tonnes dependant on the variant of the vehicle. Furthermore the vehicle has a crew of three, commander, driver and gunner. The vehicles range is 600 km however this can be extended via external fuel pods to 1,000 km. The VBL has a maximum speed of 95 km per hour.
(In no particular order)
- France | Use of over 1,621 VBLs
- Cameroon | Purchase of 5
- Greece | Purchase of 243
- Georgia| Who are using as part of ISAF the VBL in Afghanistan in parts of Kubul
- Mexico | Purchase of 40
- Nigera | Purchase of 72