|Societe de Constructions Panhard et Levassor
|Wheeled armoured personnel carrier
Following extensive trials, the French Army selected the Panhard VBL (Vehicule Blinde Leger) to meet its future requirements for a light scout vehicle. The initial production vehicles were completed in 1990 and the first customer was Mexico.
By mid-2004,1,800 VBLs had been built for the home and export market with quantity production still underway.
The all-welded steel armour hull protects the occupants against small-arms fire, shell splinters and anti-personnel mines. The bulletproof windows provided the same level of protection as the hull.
Standard equipment includes a nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) defensive system, powered steering, central tyre-pressure regulation system and passive night-vision equipment.
Panhard offers many options for the VBL, such as an air-conditioning system and a land-navigation system. Some French Army vehicles are being fitted with a battle information system.
Typical armament aboard the VBL is a roof-mounted 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun. The latter is often mounted in a cupola. A wide range of other weapons can be fitted, such as a Euromissile MILAN anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW), a 40mm automatic grenade launcher and a cupola-mounted 20mm cannon.
The standard production VBL has a 2.45in wheelbase but a long wheelbase version (2.7in) is also available with an increased internal volume. This can carry up to four people.
The basic vehicle is fully amphibious: a single propeller mounted under back of the hull drives the vehicle through water at a machine speed of 4.5km/h.
The VBL is available in different variants, including as an anti-tank vehicle fitted with 3,750m-range Raytheon Tube-launched Optically tracked, Wire guided (TOW) ATGW, MBDA Mistral surface-to-air missile, air-defence surveillance radar, battlefield surveillance radar, internal security and fitted with a mast-mounted surveillance pod.