The picture shows the Panhard Crab in the urban scenario. A light, well-protected and well-armed machine from Panhard was the company's response to the challenges of the near future.
On the photo of the place of three crew members in the Panhard Crab I and the new electronic equipment Vsys-net from Thales
PANHARD CRAB: In its original version, the Crab, like VBL, will have a crew of three, but the similarity ends there. First, its combat weight is almost three times the mass of the original VBL, which was installed at around three tons for the purpose of air transportation. In the configuration shown at Eurosatory, the Crab had a mass of 8,5 tons, but its chassis components could cope with the mass increased to 10 tons without impairing mobility (this takes into account the experience of VBL, whose weight increase reduced the mobility of the original machine). Mobility is an integral part of Crab's global survivability, which also combines protection and low visibility.
One of the main components of mobility is power density. Currently, Panhard is considering two different engines for its Crab machine, both of which provide a minimum 35 hp / t for a combat weight of 8,5 tons, which means an output power of approximately 300 hp. Power can be increased if necessary at the expense of the 400-ampere starter-generator, which will provide not only additional tractive force, but also allow the Crab to silently move short distances using the electric power accumulated in its batteries (two solar panels are installed on the sides in the rear parts for recharging batteries on a sunny day). The low visibility of the Crab contributes even more to its reduced silhouette of the car, its height over the roof is almost 1,8 meters. The cabin shape was also developed to minimize radar reflection, the slope of its surfaces contribute to low effective reflection and increased protection against ballistic threats.
Let's return to mobility. The crab has a permanent 4 x 4 drive, both of its bridges are controllable and they can be rotated either in opposite directions, allowing you to make a turn with a diameter less than 10 meters, or coordinated in one direction (albeit at a limited angle), allowing the machine to "shift" to the side like crab! In addition, Panhard has another driving mode, with only the rear wheels turning, and the rear-facing video camera and reverse gearbox with two gears allow the car to retreat quickly. It is based on the suspension of the Panhard VBR 4 x 4, which is distinguished by independent air-liquid shock absorbers and adjustable ground clearance (standard clearance is set to 450 mm). It is worth noting that the Crab "shod" in exactly the same wheels as the VBR.
The Crab machine is built around an armored capsule (cabin-compartment) that seats three people and is accessed through two vertical sash doors. Due to the high location of the bottom of the machine, the lower flap has steps to facilitate embarkation and disembarkation. In order to meet customer requirements, Panhard offers its new machine with 2 and 4 ballistic protection levels. As for mine protection, here the company tested solutions for booking bottoms up to the 3 Level, although in this direction the machine has some potential for growth. It should be noted that the lower part of the machine does not have a typical deep V-shape: in the middle part the bottom is flat, only from the sides it rises, the maximum protection is achieved due to the triple bottom absorbing most of the energy. The wings are made of lightweight material; in the event of a mine exploding, they pass “by” most of the energy and thereby reduce the height to which the Crab machine could be raised by an explosion and, accordingly, reduce the force of the subsequent “impact on the ground”. Explosive seats also reduce the likelihood of injury to crew members, but at the same time guarantee maximum ergonomics when the Crab is moving at high speed over rough terrain.
The driver sits in front of three multifunctional color monitors, while the commander and the gunner each have two monitors. To ensure maximum situational awareness, the Crab is equipped with a six-camera circular view system. The windshield consists of three elements and has an angle that provides optimal visibility forward-up, which is essential in urban environments. To this end, Thales has developed an innovative system electronics system (systronics - system electronics) and on-board electronics (vetroniki - vehicle electronics), called Vsys-net, for the Crab machine, which improves the overall system performance regarding mobility, surveillance, protection and fire power. Based on an open and modular non-patented architecture, it makes it easy to connect electronic systems from various manufacturers. Sistronica Crab includes a combat control system and a radio system allowing it to be integrated into the Scorpion digital script. Vsys-net allows you to fully switch functionality between three workstations in order to optimize the workload at different points in the performance of a combat mission. Although the commander retains his privilege, search and shock functions can be transferred to all three jobs. Internal communication can also be used by a dismounted member of the crew (the standard range of communication is about 300 meters, but at the request of the customer a range of one km can be established). Vsys-net allows you to distribute all images from weapons, on-board sensors, local situational awareness systems among crew members, and an image processing system is integrated to perform analysis and generation of warnings. The ultra-compact GPS / inertial positioning system provides accurate geolocation, it is also connected to the target designation system, and the presence of terrain profiles increases mobility.
Two solar panels installed on a Crab machine increase the amount of electrical charge and increase battery life with the engine off
The Mk2 is the current standard for the serial Panhard VBL. Machines of the French army operating in Afghanistan have undergone significant modernization in order to counter the ever-increasing threat of roadside mines and bombs.
As for the armament, the Crab can be equipped with various remote-controlled modules equipped with weapons up to a caliber of 30 mm. The variant shown at Eurosatory was equipped with a Cockerill Maintenance & Ingenierie module armed with a 25 mm Bushmaster M242 cannon, the entire installation weighing about 800 kg. Although the Crab is lighter than many Mrap-type vehicles in service, due to the fact that it has a low center of gravity, it can withstand the recoil force of its weapons up to 40 kN, while the Mrap vehicles have limitations here, since their high configuration makes them unstable ... The CMI combat module was specially adapted for the Crab in order to optimize the turret / chassis connection; a hatch was cut out in it, which allows the commander to directly observe the environment, which is the requirement of the French army. The module has a stabilized panoramic sight with a vertical angle of 60 ° (vertical gun angles range from –10 ° to + 45 °). The dual feed system allows you to shoot two types of projectiles, the total number of which is 150 pieces. The open base of the module allows loading and servicing from under armor with maximum crew safety. Guided missiles are another type of weapon for the Crab, and it is also possible to install various lighter turrets with small caliber weapons and target designation systems. Due to its low profile and limited size, exact figures are not provided, but the Crab is estimated to be five meters long and 2,5 meters wide. The vehicle can be transported to the C-130H, the C-130J will accommodate two vehicles, and the A-400M aircraft as many as three, that is, it can take on board a platoon ready for combat.
According to a source in the company, the Crab was positively received by the headquarters of the French army, as well as the main armaments department, when presenting officials to the officials. Its dimensions perfectly correspond to the military requirements, although they are still at the clarification stage.
When developing the Crab machine, Panhard General Defense did not just mean the local market; they believe that there is a market for light vehicles equipped with medium weapons, since this niche currently has no competitors. Systems such as the Panhard AML and Sagaie or Engesa Cascavel, as well as light tracked vehicles like the Scorpion, for example, have no successors, therefore, the Crab machine equipped with the appropriate weapon systems can take on their tasks. Africa, Latin America and the Middle East are those geographical areas where such systems are still in service, and where the new machine from Panhard can find its buyers. In addition to the technical aspects that make it possible to judge it as a flexible system, the Crab has another marketing plus, cost. Engineers at Panhard focused on cost rather than opportunity. The company is well aware that the budgets of the Western armies are shrinking, while in other parts of the world it often has to compete with products coming from less developed countries and therefore of lower cost. Obviously, Panhard does not disclose its figures (the serial production of the Crab has not yet begun), but it is clear that its goal is to maintain the machine at a competitive level. When the Crab model appears on the market, it depends mainly on the appearance of the first customer; the VBAE program of the French army is still aloof, although the situation may change in a relatively short time.
In recent years, more than 150 Sherpa 4x4 machines have been sold. The machine is available in various versions, including the option of reconnaissance and target designation, radio intelligence, and even a light artillery installation.
Acmat Bastion BTR is constantly being finalized, the newest options are equipped with independent suspension
VBL. Panhard, however, is still actively promoting its VBL machine, currently receiving the additional designation Mark 2. In order to improve protection and fire power, the French army chose an additional booking and remotely controlled combat module, which increased the vehicle weight to a maximum of five tons. Mark 2 with a Steyr 130 horsepower engine It was adopted by Kuwait and is the current standard production vehicle. Regarding the model of Petit videoule Protege (PVP), the French arms management transferred to the army the 993 machine from the 1133 ordered by the armed forces. This means that the total number of PVP Mk3 shipped has now exceeded the 1000 units.
RENAULT SHERPA. Another major French manufacturer of light armored vehicles is Renault Truck Defense, whose Sherpa has orders for more than 150 units, and is currently being supplied. The car was sold in several configurations. The Sherpa armored personnel carrier, a personnel transporter option that seats up to 10 people, was acquired by Qatar, India and an undisclosed Central European country, while the transporter option was delivered to the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency, as well as to France, which uses it as a platform for your Syracuse Satcom mobile station. Egypt is also a Sherpa user and operates the Station Wagon and Sherpa Light Scout variants, with a remotely controlled combat module from the Romanian company Pro Optica installed on the latter. This stabilized system can be armed with machine guns from 5,56 to 12,7 mm, it was first shown on board an Egyptian machine in June at the Eurosatory 2012 exhibition.
Renault Trucks Defense has worked to protect its Sherpa machines, which are currently armored to Ballistic 3 Level and Mineral 2a / b Level. In addition, the bottom protection of the Scout variant can be raised to the 3a / 2b Level. A relatively new problem with existing armored vehicles is their unsatisfactory ability to integrate new electronic systems with minimal effort; for this purpose, Renault Trucks Defense benefited from its experience gained by the Volvo Group in the civilian market. Her new solution for the vetronic "Battlenet Inside" is a modification of the finished system available on Volvo trucks, which has been made more robust and militarized in accordance with the demands of consumers. The open architecture of the windbreaks offered to customers makes it easy to equip such machines as Sherpa with combat modules, IED silencers, shot detection systems, battle control systems, etc. Another possible option is the installation of active protection systems: the company showed the Sherpa Light Scout in Paris, equipped with the Bright Arrow combined active and passive protection complex designed and manufactured by Israeli Military Industries. The complex includes an optical-electronic directional silencer, which “blinds” the anti-tank missile guidance system, as well as anti-missiles to neutralize RPGs and missiles. Renault is counting on a steady increase in Sherpa sales in the military and paramilitary areas, it is believed that by the end of 2012, a sufficient number of vehicles could be sold.
The program, which could have a significant impact on Sherpa, VLTP (Trafficule Leger Tactique Polyvalent - light universal tactical machine) of the French army. It provides for the replacement of non-armored universal P4 machines with a five-ballistic ballistic protection 2 level and anti-mine protection 2a / 1b level, 7,5 tonnes with a ballistic protection 2 level and anti-mine protection 2a / 2b level truck, 10, and 5, and 7,5b, three tons, but with weak protection. There is a discussion among users about the possibility of combining their requirements for 2000 and 300 ton machines in favor of the latter in order to create a family of machines with a much greater carrying capacity. As for the quantity, the current needs are estimated as follows: over 500 five-ton and from 7,5 to 100 pieces of 2014-toners of which are 2016 ambulances. For both categories, the application must be placed in the 2025 year, deliveries must pass in the period from 7,5 to XNUMX year. However, the program may at some point be given priority to the combat vehicles that are part of the Scorpion program. Renault Trucks Defense believes that its Sherpa is very well positioned for VLTP requirements in the secure XNUMX-ton truck segment.
ACMAT VLRA2: Renault's subsidiary Acmat Defense has developed a Bastion protected machine based on the VLRA2 all-terrain truck chassis. Recently, the company began producing the latest version of this machine called Bastion Extreme Mobility. Unlike the standard version, based on a dependent suspension, the new car has an independent suspension, while the new diesel engine with an 320 hp. replaced the original piston power xnumx hp The ballistic protection varies from the 215 Level to the 1 Level, with correspondingly reduced payload from three tons to 3 tons (2,5 Level) and one and a half tons, while mine protection increases to the Level 2a / 2b. Bastion EM has a crew of two people and transports eight soldiers who can use their weapon straight out of the car. On the Bastion EM, you can install an open turret armed with a machine gun. Bastion can be transported in aircraft of various payloads, starting with the C-160 Transall.