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Vehicles in Focus: VBL

The VBL, much like the VBR, its larger successor, is a light, four-wheeled armored fighting vehicle, designed for multiple roles while offering its crew basic small arms protection. It is a compact machine, capable of great speeds and a wide variety of duties, including reconnaissance, liaison tasks or even armored vehicle killing.

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It was developed by Panhard in the late 1980s and its designation stands for Véhicule Blindé Léger (Light Armored Vehicle). In a way it was designed for the "old" type of war – symmetric warfare where units in such vehicles wouldn't be the most common target of enemy attention. The original purpose of the program was to replace the American Jeep vehicles still in French service in the late 1970s and to provide the French army with a light and affordable platform for multiple weapons systems.

VBL armor is very thin – it is STANAG 4569 Level 1, which means it can withstand only small arms non-AP ammunition and grenade blasts. It doesn't protect it from mine blasts and IEDs, something soldiers have to face in today's asymmetric warfare. One incident involving an IED explosion took place on February 27 2013, when a bomb exploded near a VBL driven by two French soldiers in Mali, near Adrar des Ifoghas. One was seriously wounded and the other lightly wounded, but the vehicle was wrecked.

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That, however, also means the vehicle is very light. With its 3.5 tons in basic configuration, the VBL can not only be transported by a standard NATO cargo plane (the C-130), but can also be carried by a transport helicopter or even (if the situation requires it) dropped by a parachute. Unlike other vehicles of this type, it is also amphibious and its swimming speed can reach 5 km/h.

Once on the ground, it can also go rather fast thanks to its 95hp Peugeot XD3T turbo-diesel engine. Its maximum speed on hardened surfaces is around 95 km/h (average speed is 70 km/h), although the heavier variants are a little bit slower. The specialized sub-types include:

  • Light recon vehicle armed with a machinegun or a 40mm grenade launcher
  • Heavy recon vehicle armed with a remote controlled automatic cannon (20mm Rheinmetall or even 30mm), capable of engaging light enemy armor
  • Command and Communications vehicle with prolonged hull and advanced communication systems
  • Anti-tank variants with several weapon system options, such as the AT4CS, MILAN, ERYX or even TOW (for export)
  • NBC recon vehicle
  • Urban combat variant AZUR (stands for Action en Zone Urbaine)
  • Anti-Aircraft variant armed with MISTRAL surface-to-air missiles

Overall, around two dozen variants of the VBL have been proposed.

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The VBL was accepted in French service in 1990 and has found its way to around 20, mostly African, countries. It's a very popular export item thanks to its ruggedness and versatility. The biggest operators include France (approximately 1400 in service), Greece, and Oman. All in all, around 2400 were built. Over the years, the VBLs in French service were mostly involved in peacekeeping operations for the United Nations, such as those in former Yugoslavia, Lebanon and Somalia, but some saw service in Mali, the Ivory Coast and Afghanistan. The Nigerians used VBLs in counter-insurgency operations as light fighting vehicles (the recon variant armed with a Browning M2 .50 caliber heavy machinegun).

In Armored Warfare

The VBL, much like the Fox and the CRAB, is one of the lightest and least armored but also fastest vehicles of Armored Warfare. It is the quintessential Tier 6 scout and few other vehicles can match its speed, agility and acceleration.

There are two weapon options for the VBL – either a 20mm autocannon, or an ALRRT-4M INGWE missile launcher. Each weapons system is designed for a different playstyle. The missile launcher requires more passive scouting, such as staying hidden behind an obstacle and ambushing the enemy using the long viewrange when standing.

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The automatic cannon is best used for active and aggressive reconnaissance and for engaging targets at close distances. Even Main Battle Tanks can be defeated by flanking them and firing into their exposed rear areas.

The VBL is an extremely deadly vehicle in capable hands, regardless of configuration. Its tiny size makes it difficult to hit, while its mobility allows it to flank even wary opponents.

Characteristics

  • Tier: 6
  • Class: Armored Fighting vehicle
  • Hitpoints: 875
  • Crew: Commander, Gunner, Driver
  • Base Camouflage: 0.403
  • Viewrange: 440 meters

Armor (Hull)

VBL Stock Armor

  • Hull Armor Type: Steel
  • Hull Armor Modifiers: 1.0 vs. AP, 1.0 vs. HEAT, 1.0 vs. HE
  • Hull Armor Thickness vs. AP: 11/11/9
  • Hull Armor Thickness vs. HEAT: 11/11/9

Armor (Turret)

VBL Stock Armor

  • Hull Armor Type: Steel
  • Hull Armor Modifiers: 1.0 vs. AP, 1.0 vs. HEAT, 1.0 vs. HE
  • Hull Armor Thickness vs. AP: 9/9/9
  • Hull Armor Thickness vs. HEAT: 9/9/9

Firepower

Main Gun (Stock): 20mm Rh202 Autocannon

  • Loading: Automatic Loader
  • Caliber: 20mm
  • Clip Reload Time: 6 seconds
  • Nominal Rate of Fire: 300 rounds per minute
  • Clip Size: 45 rounds
  • Aim Time: 2.45 seconds
  • Accuracy: 0.12
  • Gun Depression: +55/-13 (frontal), -15 (rear)
  • Turret Traverse: 52.12 deg/s

Ammunition for 20mm Rh202 Autocannon

Armor Piercing (Kinetic)

Name: 20mm DM-43A1

  • Category: AP-I (Stock – Incendiary ammunition has a higher chance of causing a fire if it hits enemy vehicle's engine)
  • Penetration: 109
  • Damage: 34
  • Damage per Minute: 6239
  • Velocity: 1200 m/s

Name: 20mm DM-63

  • Category: APDS (Upgrade 1)
  • Penetration: 120
  • Damage: 37
  • Damage per Minute: 6789
  • Velocity: 1200 m/s

High Explosive

Name: 20mm DM-51A2

  • Category: HE-I (Stock– Incendiary ammunition has a higher chance of causing a fire if it hits enemy vehicle's engine)
  • Penetration: 11
  • Damage (Penetrating): 34-42
  • Damage (Non-Penetrating): 6-28
  • Area of Effect: 0.5 meters
  • Velocity: 500 m/s

Name: 20mm DM-81

  • Category: HE-I (Upgrade 1– Incendiary ammunition has a higher chance of causing a fire if it hits enemy vehicle's engine)
  • Penetration: 12
  • Damage (Penetrating): 38-47
  • Damage (Non-Penetrating): 7-31
  • Area of Effect: 0.5 meters
  • Velocity: 500 m/s

Name: 20mm DM-101

  • Category: HE-I (Upgrade 2 – Incendiary ammunition has a higher chance of causing a fire if it hits enemy vehicle's engine)
  • Penetration: 11
  • Damage (Penetrating): 41-50
  • Damage (Non-Penetrating): 7-33
  • Area of Effect: 0.5 meters
  • Velocity: 500 m/s

Main Gun (Upgrade 1): ALRRT-4M INGWE ATGM Launcher

  • Loading: Automatic Loader
  • Caliber: 127mm
  • Salvo Size: 4 rockets (can be fired in quick succession before reloading)
  • Salvo Reload: 2 seconds
  • Clip Reload: 24 seconds
  • Wait Time: 1.5 seconds
  • Gun Depression: +20/-8 (frontal), -7 (rear)
  • Turret Traverse: 52.12 deg/s

Ammunition for ALRRT-4M INGWE ATGM Launcher

Guided Missile

Name: ZT-3 INGWE ATGM

  • Category: HEAT (Stock)
  • Penetration: 668
  • Damage: 272
  • Velocity: 200 m/s

Mobility

Stock Engine: XDT 3T Diesel Engine

  • Acceleration to 32 km/h: 2.55 seconds
  • Maximum Speed: 90 km/h
  • Hull Traverse: 79.1 deg/s

Upgraded Engine: M14 TCI Diesel Engine

  • Acceleration to 32 km/h: 2.1 seconds
  • Maximum Speed: 90 km/h
  • Hull Traverse: 86.30 deg/s

Mobility Upgrades:

  • Improved Power Steering (increases wheeled vehicle turning speed by 15%)

Technology

Stock Technology:

  • VBL Technology
  • Reconnaissance Package (improves base capture rate by 10%, increases view range of the vehicle by 80 meters when stopped)

Technology Upgrades:

  • MIRA Thermal Sight (increases effectiveness of spotting through foliage by 30%)
  • Day/Night Observation Scope (increases the view range of the vehicle by 40 meters)

Retrofits

  • Technology Retrofit Slot
  • Universal Retrofit Slot
  • Mobility Retrofit Slot

Proven Upgrades

  • Battle-Hardened (1600 Gold)
  • Enhanced Sight Interface Mk.3 Retrofit (increases vision range and component saves)
  • Portrait
  • 126.700 Credits (16895 Reputation)
  • 126.700 Credits (16895 Reputation)
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