FEINDEF 2021: First public appearance for VCR Dragon future 8x8 armored vehicle for Spanish army

At FEINDEF 2021, Defense Exhibition in Spain, the Spanish Defense Industry presents the VCR Dragon a new 8x8 armored vehicle that will replace the BMR-600, a 6x6 armored vehicle that entered into service with the Spanish Army in 1975.

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VCR Dragon future 8x8 armored vehicle for the Spanish army in IFV Infantry Fighting Vehicle at FEINDEF 2021, defense exhibition in Spain. (Picture source Army Recognition)

On 23 June 2020, the Spanish government announced that it had approved the production of 348 VCR 8×8 armored fighting vehicles, with the value of the order estimated to be around €2 billion. The vehicle will be manufactured by a joint venture of Spanish defense contractors led by Indra Sistemas, General Dynamics European Land Systems-Santa Barbara Sistemas (GDELS-SBS), Sapa Placencia and Escribano Mechanical & Engineering, with 70% of work to be conducted by Spanish companies in locations including Asturias, Madrid, and Seville.

The VCR Dragon is based on Piranha V designed and manufactured by the Swiss company MOWAG which is now a subdivision of GDELS (General Dynamics European Land System). The vehicle will be manufactured in 13 variants and the Spanish government could procure a total of 1,000 vehicles. The Piranha V has been modified with all national technologies as required by the Spanish Ministry of Defense.

The production contract for the first phase of the program includes the supply of 348 8x8 VCRs between 2022 and 2027, of which 240 units will be of the so-called full configuration and the remaining 108 vehicles of the simple configuration.

Using technologies of the Piranha V, the VCR Dragon has a next-generation, full coverage, modular survivability system that has been integrated in the vehicle design from the concept stage. This system provides unparalleled all-around protection, particularly in the wheel well area that has traditionally been vulnerable to IEDs on wheeled armored combat vehicles.

The layout of the VCR Dragon is similar to the members of the MOWAG Piranha family with the driver position at the front left, power pack to his right, turret in the center, and troop’s compartment at the rear. The armor of the vehicle incorporates shaped hull plates to increase protection against explosion blast, spacing in the add-on armor, and surface coatings to minimize the thermal and radar signatures.

Based on the protection of the Piranha V, the armor of the VCR Dragon provides protection against rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), 14.5mm armor-piercing rounds through 360°, and 30mm armor-piercing rounds across the 30° frontal arc. The hull provides protection against 8kg anti-tank mines.

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The VCR Dragon has a crew of three including the driver, commander, gunner, and can accommodate up to 8 infantrymen. The vehicle has a combat weight of 30 tons with a length of 8.0 m, a width of 3.0 m, and a height of 2.34 m. The vehicle is powered by an MTU 6V199 TE21 Diesel engine developing 550 hp coupled to a ZF 7HP 902, seven-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission.

The IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) version of the VCR Dragon was displayed at FEINDEF 2021 fitted with the Guardian 30 remote weapons station manufactured by the Spanish company Escribano Mechanical & Engineering, a solution in which the Spanish multinational Indra also participates. The program establishes that 219 vehicles (all units of the Infantry Combat Vehicle version) will be equipped in principle with this turret.

The GUARDIAN 30 is a remotely-controlled system stabilized in two axes that integrates two electro-optical systems, offering the possibility to fire in a static position and on the move during day and night. The turret is armed with a 30mm cannon MK 44 Bushmaster and one 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.