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07 Dec 17. Brazilian Army seeks to modernise remaining M113B APCs. The Brazilian Army is seeking to modernise its remaining M113B armoured personnel carriers (APCs), it recently told Jane’s. Such a programme has not been finalised, but plans are being discussed for a “third phase” of the M113BR project, officials said. The Brazilian Army originally received 584 M113s from the United States that were modernised to the M113B standard by Motopeças. BAE Systems by December 2015 had modernised 150 vehicles under a USD41.9m US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract to a M113BR (local designation for M113A2 Mk1). Another 236 vehicles are being improved under a USD54.6m FMS contract from July 2015 that is to be complete in 2019. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
07 Dec 17. Qatar becomes first VBCI export customer. The French-made VBCI 8×8 armoured vehicle has finally secured an export customer in Qatar, following a billion-dollar trade deal finalised between France and the Gulf state on 7 December. In addition to the armoured vehicles, the two countries agreed on several major contracts including additional Rafale fighter jets, commercial airliners and infrastructure projects. The deals are likely to be worth around €12bn ($14.1bn), according to Reuters. The Qataris have committed to purchasing 490 VBCI vehicles from French manufacturer Nexter, although the potential value of the contract, number of variants, or a production schedule has yet to be made public.
It is likely that the Qatar Armed Forces will take delivery of the new VBCI-2 export variant, unveiled by Nexter two years ago. This version has a new all-welded aluminium hull design with a higher roof line to provide greater internal volume, and an increased GVW of 32t.
The VBCI-2 also features upgraded powertrain components and a modular armour package.
What turret system will arm the Qatari’s IFV variant is also still unknown. However, it is understood that Nexter trialled the VBCI with its new two-man T40 turret to a Middle East customer in 2015, which was most likely Qatar.
The T40 turret will equip the French Army’s next-generation Jaguar 6×6 vehicle, which is being procured along with the Griffon as part of the service’s Scorpion programme.
This turret is armed with the 40mm stabilised Cased Telescoped Armament System (CTAS) developed by CTA International, a joint venture between BAE Systems and Nexter. Lockheed Martin UK, which also manufactures a 40mm CTAS turret for the British Army’s Ajax and Warrior, might also try and pitch a turret solution to Qatar.
The French Army currently utilises a conventional one-man 25mm turret for its VBCI fleet, but could adopt the T40 in the future.
The new order from Qatar will be welcome news for the French manufacturer, which recently finished VBCI production for the French Army but did not have any follow-on export orders to keep production running at its Roanne facility. It is currently upgrading older French VBCIs and incorporating some of the new features from the VBCI-2.
The VBCI’s export prospects have waned over recent years, particularly in the face of stiff competition from the Patria AMV, Rheinmetall Boxer and General Dynamics Piranha – all of which have achieved some degree of export success.
A Qatari requirement for new 8×8 vehicles has been on the cards for the last several years, with Patria and Lockheed Martin also pitching the AMV with a 40mm CT turret. The armed forces currently operate an ageing fleet of IFVs and APCs, mostly French, including the AMX-10P and the VAB 4×4.
07 Dec 17. Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that Dr Julian Lewis, chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, has written to Harriet Baldwin, minister for defence procurement, demanding answers. With regard to a possible sole-source bid for MIV.