Feb 19, 2013 Awad Mustafa - thenational.ae
ABU DHABI // The Armed Forces' main battle tanks supplier Nexter Systems are looking to supply 700 combat armoured infantry carriers (VBCIs) to the military.
Nexter Systems has supplied the UAE with 390 of their main battle tanks, the Leclerc MBT, since 1993 and a further 46 Armoured Recovery Vehicles, according to Philippe Burtin, chairman and chief executive of Nexter, a French company.
Nexter was approached by the Armed Forces in 2010 to supply the infantry carriers to replace their current ageing fleet of Russian-made BMP infantry fighting vehicles, Mr Burtin said.
"We have been approached to present 700 vehicles for variant use, ambulance, combat and other uses," Mr Burtin said.
The VBCIs have a high firepower ranging from 25mm and 105mm calibre, a high mobility performance, ballistic protection, protection against rocket propelled grenades and stealth capability with its low radar and thermal signature, according to the company.
"We have been contracted to deliver 630 VBCIs to the French armed forces and we have already delivered 450," Mr Burtin said.
The vehicles, he said, are combat proven and have been in combat operations in Afghanistan, Libya and, most recently, in Mali.
"We have participated in two trials with the Army in the UAE in 2010 and 2011," he said. "We are very confident of the performances it has given and we are hoping for a response soon."
Trials involve the vehicles being exposed to the harshest conditions around the country and rigorous testing by the Armed Forces personnel.
Since 1993, Nexter has been supplying and maintaining the Armed Forces' main battle tanks locally.
"We have a few hundred personnel who maintain and upgrade the tanks and the armoured vehicles," Mr Burtin said. "We have had a very successful relationship that we would like to enhance further."
The chief executive said that in their proposal to the UAE they would like to transfer the technology and help to develop the local defence industry.
"We would like to start building parts of the vehicles in the UAE until we can supply 100 per cent UAE-built VBCIs," he said.
The plan would involve Emirati engineers and workers being involved in the construction of the vehicle and would result in 250 of the 700 troop carriers being 100-per-cent locally made.
"This would give a boost to the local industry and talent," Mr Burtin said.