Véhicule blindé de combat d'infanterie
A VBCI during the Journées Nation Défense, 2005
|Type||Infantry fighting vehicle|
|Place of origin||France|
|Manufacturer||Giat Industries / Renault VI|
|Unit cost||€3.49m (VCI, FY2012)
€2.74m (VPC, FY2012)
|Number built||510 VCI, 120 VPC (planned)|
|Weight||VCI: 25.6 t (normal combat load).
VPC: 23.3 t (normal combat load).
|Crew||3 + 9-man combat team|
|Armour||14.5 mm API |
|M811 25 mm x 137 mm NATO cannon|
|co-axial 7.62 mm NATO machine gun|
550 hp (410 kW)
|750 km (470 mi)|
|Speed||100 km/h (62 mph)|
The Véhicule Blindé de Combat d'Infanterie (VBCI, "Armoured vehicle for infantry combat") is a French Infantry fighting vehicle designed to replace the AMX-10P. They joined active service in 2008, with 630 vehicles ordered up to 2010. Other countries like Spain  have shown interest in the VBCI. In January 2014 the British Prime Minister David Cameron also expressed an interest in the VBCI. 
The Véhicule Blindé de Combat d'Infanterie is built on an aluminium hull which carries a modular THD steel and titanium armour, which can be replaced in the field. The 8x8 wheel combination is designed to make the VBCI more comfortable and less costly than a tracked vehicle, while giving it sufficient mobility to back the Leclerc tank. The VBCI is also designed to be transportable by the Airbus A400M, with an empty mass less than 18 tonnes (full load mass up to 28 tonnes).
In the early 90s, the French government started the VBM (Véhicule Blindé Modulaire — Modular Armoured Vehicle) as a replacement for its older IFVs. Soon, Germany and the United Kingdom joined the project. However, in 1999, the programme came to a dead-end, and France decided to follow on its own.
On November 6, 2000, the French government ordered 700 vehicles and the programme was carried on. In 2003-2004, the programme reached some major milestones: The mobility/agility tests, the armour tests and the electronic systems tests were all successful. From 2004 to 2005, the first 5 prototypes (4 VCIs and 1 VPC) were tested in real conditions. These tests proved some crucial design mistakes on the DRAGAR turret, which had to be redesigned. The 2 years delay in the programme are consequences of this design flaw.
As the programme reaches completion, other versions are being studied. A mortar version and a vehicle using the MILAN Missile have been considered by the developer. Note that none of these versions are being developed as of now, but feasibility studies are being conducted. In June 2007, VBCI was being considered for the British FRES programme. In January 2014 it emerged that the British Army would acquire around 20 vehicles for evaluation purposes, based on the VBCI's performance in Mali.
France originally planned to buy 550 VCI and 150 of the VPC command version, but this was cut to 510 and 120 respectively with deliveries until 2015. The €3.49bn (FY2012) project will deliver 630 units at a unit cost of €3.49m (~US$4.8m) for the VCI and €2.74m (~US$3.7m) for the VPC, or €5.5m (~US$7.4m) per vehicle including development costs.
The 200th VBCI was delivered to the French army on 23 June 2010. The 400th VBCI was delivered to the French army on 12 June 2012. The first unit to be equipped with the new infantry fighting vehicle was the 35th Infantry Regiment in Belfort. The 500th VBCI was delivered to the French Army on 8 July 2013. Delivery of 110 command post vehicles has been completed.
In February 2014, France agreed to lend a few VBCIs to the British Army for testing. French military sources report that the British Army is interested in purchasing the vehicle. The French Ministry of Defense has indicated that the French Army may purchase the British Watchkeeper WK450 unmanned aerial vehicle if the British Army buys the VBCI. The British Army is testing the VBCI as part of the future utility vehicle program, intended to start replacing the current fleet of protected mobility vehicles by 2022.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2013)|
- VCI (infantry combat vehicle): Combat group of 9 men (+ crew), medium calibre Dragar type turret (25 mm), 7.62 mm machine gun.
- VPC (command post vehicle): 2 SIP stations with 7 users (+ crew), self-defence turret armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun.
- VTT (Troop Transport Vehicle): It is designed to transport troops. It has an interior volume of 13 m³ and can carry a 2-man crew and up to 10 soldiers with their equipment. The VTT is sized to meet export requirements and is currently being considered by several national armies.
Common features for all versions include SIT (Système d’Information Terminal) communication equipment, combat identification equipment, and NBC detection and protection equipment.
The VBCI will be completely integrated in the French C4ISR capability. The VCI version will use the SIT (Système d’Information Terminal — The lowest level of C4IST in the French forces), while the VPC will use the SIR (Système d’Information Régimentaire — A higher level in the same system).
The vehicle will be designed to primarily carry soldiers equipped with the FÉLIN system.
The DRAGAR Turret (GIAT INDUSTRIES) is a single seat modular design turret integrating a 25 mm stabilized gun. Fire control integrates a laser telemeter and a thermal camera. The rate of fire is up to 400 rounds/min, and the turret allows anti-air self-defence. It also includes a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun for close defence and a Galix grenade launching system.
- MOWAG Piranha
- Pandur 8X8 APC
- Patria AMV
- Infantry mobility vehicle
- List of AFVs
- VBM Freccia
- KTO Rosomak
- "Projet de loi de finances pour 2013 : Défense : équipement des forces" (in French). Senate of France. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "Dossier : VBCI". Retrieved 2010-11-03.
- Jane's international defense review: IDR., Volume 37, Issues 1-6. Jane's Information Group. 2004. Retrieved 14 February 2011. "It had therefore confined itself to wheeled vehicles in the VBM program and concentrated after 1996 on the development of a single 8x8 IFV, the Vehicule Blinde de Combat d'Infanterie (VBCI)."
- GTD y NEXTER Systems firman un acuerdo de colaboración para el desarrollo del Futuro Vehículo Blindado 8x8
- David Cameron: UK and France 'as close as ever'
- Drayson: New vehicles will have "vital part to play in the Army of the future"
- "The DGA delivers the 200th VBCI to the French Army". defpro. 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
- "400 VBCI et un millier de PVP livrés à l'armée de Terre". Meretmarine. 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- (French) Présentation de la formation "VBCI" au 35e régiment d'infanterie.
- French army takes delivery of the 500th VBCI 8x8 armoured infantry fighting vehicle - Armyrecognition.com, 8 July 2013
- British Army could be interested to purchase Nexter VBCI 8x8 armoured infantry fighting vehicle - Armyrecognition.com, 2 February 2014
- France negotiates acquisition of Watchkeeper drones against purchase of VBCI armoured by UK - Armyrecognition.com, 20 February 2014
- UK; Army to field test French VBCI AFV - Dmilt.com, 24 February 2014
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Véhicule Blindé de Combat d'Infanterie.|
- VBCI Nexter Data Sheet - Pictures - Video
- (French) Nexter
- (French) chars-francais.net (numerous photographs, including the inside)
- VBCI Program Update