Armoured adaptability: The Berliet VXB-170’s specifications, variants and operations

Produced for internal security, the Berliet VXB-170 saw little usage despite the fact it was less expensive than the Saviem VAB. Production was taken over by Renault Trucks (now Arquus) following a merger.

Created and produced by Berliet, the four-wheel armoured vehicle VXB-170 was intended for use in internal security. However, after Berliet and Saviem merged, the newly created Renault Trucks (now Arquus) assumed control of production. Although the Berliet VXB-170 was less expensive than its rival, the Saviem VAB, it was not chosen to provide the French Army. Unfortunately, less than 200 of these armoured vehicles were produced before the manufacture of the vehicle was discontinued.

 

Specifications:

With dimensions of 5.99 metres in length, 2.5 metres in width, and 2.05 metres in height, the military vehicle in question has a significant mass of 12.7 tonnes or 12.5 long tonnes. The vehicle can carry six to eight soldiers, although it was built for a three-person crew. With a 7 mm thickness, its armour guarantees some degree of protection for its occupants.

A powerful 7.62 mm machine gun is part of the main armament, which is supplemented by a secondary 56 mm grenade launcher. A sturdy Berliet V800M 8-cylinder diesel engine, producing 170 horsepower (130 kW) and a power-to-weight ratio of 23 horsepower per tonne, powers this military vehicle. One reason for the vehicle’s operating adaptability is its wheeled suspension. The vehicle has a considerable operating range of 470 miles or 750 kilometres, and its top speed is 85 km/h (53 mph).

With this extensive list of features, the car is positioned as a strong and versatile weapon in a range of military operations.

 

Variants:

The versatile Berliet VXB-170 was carefully designed to meet a range of operational requirements. Purchased in four different iterations by the Gendarmerie, it functioned as a cornerstone of internal security. A basic model, a command vehicle, a vehicle with blades, and a vehicle with a winch were among the variations, each designed to meet certain needs.

In addition to its function in internal security, the VXB-170 demonstrated its versatility in a variety of operational settings by demonstrating its exceptional proficiency in patrol and reconnaissance missions. An additional dimension to its many skills was the facilitation of light combat operations by its design. After all, the Berliet VXB-170 proved to be a dependable and flexible platform that could be used for a variety of tasks, such as light combat, patrol, and internal security.

 

Operations:

In numerous military operations conducted in various locations, the Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé (VAB) has been instrumental. In the Middle East, the VAB has been actively deployed by French infantry troops in Kuwait, Côte d’Ivoire, Yugoslavia, and Chad. The VAB’s adaptability in a variety of combat situations has also been demonstrated by French personnel assisting the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

One notable event was that, during the Uzbin Valley ambush in Afghanistan, a rocket-propelled grenade hit a VAB without injuring anyone. However, there were also regrettable instances, such as the death of a soldier operating a rooftop machine gun because of a vehicle rollover. In the Western Sahara conflict, the Royal Moroccan Army used VABs to combat Polisario rebels in Africa.

During the Lebanese Civil War, in which 95 vehicles were supplied to the Lebanese Army between 1981 and 1984, the Middle East witnessed widespread deployment of VABs. A brigade defection in 1984 led to some VABs serving under the Shia Amal Movement militia banner. Additional VABs were sent to Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces for internal security and escort missions after the war. Furthermore, as of November 5, 2023, the Russian invasion had destroyed at least seven vehicles of the VAB in Ukraine, leaving others damaged or abandoned. The VAB has demonstrated its usefulness in a range of conditions, some of which are urban settings, battle zones, and deserts on several continents.