Armored Cars: SVOS VEGA
Eastern Europe remains a hotbed of armored vehicle development more than a decade after the US military embraced MRAPs for its asymmetric wars. Since NATO member states will most likely deploy their own soldiers outside the European continent, it’s not surprising there’s strong demand for multi-mission vehicles for urban and off-road environments.
The VEGA, an acronym for Vehicle with Enhanced Ground performance and Armor, is a project of the Czech armored car manufacturer SVOS. After 20 years of assembling specialized cars and 4×4’s the company decided to meet the strong demand for MRAPs in the local and international market. This conforms to ongoing trends. Truck manufacturers around the world have the advantage of possessing the skills and supply chains needed to develop cost-effective wheeled armored vehicles.
A prototype of the VEGA was unveiled at an arms show in 2010. Further development altered its appearance until it assumed its current form. On paper, the VEGA is an impressive vehicle that can safely transport a squad of infantry in a combat zone.
The 4×4 variant of the VEGA is convertible to six different roles, including an anti-riot vehicle and an ambulance. Like other MRAPs, its chassis features a blast resistant v-hull underneath a monocoque cabin structure. Space is available for six passengers–who enter from a power-operated ramp in the rear–plus the driver and co-driver. Between the cab and the passenger compartment is a third seat where a crew member can either man a roof turret or control any pre-installed subsystems. The 6×6 variant of the VEGA carries 14 people.
The VEGA wasn’t designed as a combat vehicle, hence firing ports or rifle slots are unavailable. But it can mount a remote control main armament and at least two other weapon systems above its three roof hatches. Its spacious interior allows the VEGA to perform recce and surveillance missions if specialized equipment for these tasks are provided inside the cab. The VEGA runs on an imported 410 horsepower Cummins diesel engine and weighs 18 tons.
SVOS hasn’t specified the armor level of the VEGA. The available literature does reveal its armor can withstand small arms and fragments, an indicator of at least STANAG II ballistic protection. Should a customer request heftier armoring, reactive plates can be affixed onto the VEGA’s exterior.
The VEGA hasn’t found a customer yet and in late 2015 it lost a tender for the Czech Army’s next-generation MRAPs because it didn’t support a French Nexter chassis.