Skip to content

Armored Cars: Panhard VBR

December 7, 2014
French Panhard VBR

Via Panhard-Defense.

An outlier in Panhard’s successful line of armored cars, the VBR shares the same characteristics as its well-known sibling the VBL and adds room for passengers. The VBR’s notable difference from the VBL is its four door configuration and its main armament: a .50 caliber machine gun on a remote control turret. Other weapon choices are available and the product literature suggests the VBR can even be equipped with a 40mm cannon.

Described as an armored reconnaissance vehicle whose robust protection levels are in the Stanag IV range (resistant to heavy machine gun rounds), the VBR’s exact specifications remain unpublished. As a descendant of the VBL, it does have common features. This means it’s still powered by a Peugeot diesel engine with a top speed of 105 kilometers per hour. A maximum payload of 2.5 tons ensures the VBR, like the VBL, is suited for airlifts and rapid deployment.

French Panhard VBL

The indispensable Panhard VBL used by France’s ground forces.

The crew enters via four doors. Driver sits left, with the commander to his right. Two more crew are seated behind them and at least two additional passengers enter from a rear door.

The VBR further distinguishes itself with a “forced cooling ventilation system” to control its indoor temperature when deployed in hot environments. This makes sense in light of France’s current preoccupation with missions in North and Central Africa.

The original VBL (pictured above) was a belated addition to France’s illustrious line of armored cars, a category of vehicles it still deploys with its military’s ground forces. This is why other French automakers maintain their own selection of armored cars and trucks, i.e. the Sherpa and Bastion series, to meet  the same requirement.

But during the late 1980s, instead of deploying a Land Rover variant or a Humvee, Panhard’s 4×4 VBL was a thin-skinned high mobility scouting vehicle ideal for airborne troops who could be flown to combat in medium transports like the C-130.

Despite its thin armor, the VBL’s simplicity works to its advantage. With space for three crew members and an additional passenger, the VBL is designed to support a variety of weapons that can be mounted above its three roof hatches. Panhard claims 2,300 units have been built with deliveries to 16 countries.

French defense contractors have faith in the usefulness of the armored car as a multirole vehicle, hence Panhard anticipates the future with the VBR and the CRAB.