The Panhard VÃ©hicule BlindÃ© LÃ©ger (“Light armoured vehicle”), also known by its acronym Panhard VBL or simply VBL, is a French wheeled 4×4 all-terrain vehicle built by Panhard (Renault Trucks Defense/Arquus). The vehicle is offered in various configurations, and was designed to combine the agility of the Peugeot VLTT liaison vehicle with adequate protection against small arms fire, artillery fragments, mines and NBC weapons. The VBL is fully amphibious and can swim at 5.4 km/h; it is also air transportable by C-130, C-160 and A400M. It was developed during the 1980s and entered operational service in France in 1990. It has a fuel consumption of 16 litres per 100 km.
The vehicle is operated by not only France, but a further 15 nations. The VBL is the spearhead of the French armour units and has been used in many peacekeeping operations, notably in Bosnia, Lebanon, Somalia and Kosovo. In the 2000s and 2010s, the VBL has also been used by French forces in Ivory Coast, in Afghanistan and in Northern Mali. Due to the contribution of the French Army to the Blue Helmets in Yugoslavia, the VBL was one of the ubiquitous sights in the Siege of Sarajevo, earning it the nickname of “Sarajevo Taxi”. The Nigerian Army used the Panhard VBL M11 during Counter Insurgency operations in the Niger Delta, the Jos Plateau as well as counter-insurgency operations in the North of the Country in 2013.
The VBL is a stealthy and very mobile vehicle, making it ideal for stalking Main Battle Tanks. The VBL Antichar is operated by France and a number of other nations due to its versatility at being able to mount various different Anti-Tank Missile launchers. The VBL 12.7 is the most common variant. It serves as the Reconnaissance and troop fire support. The VBL corresponds to a tactical need with wheels discrete and general-purpose having amphibians and NBC capacities. It mounts the PL127 one man turret and the gunner normally operates the 12.7mm M2 Heavy Machine. As an alternative to the M2, the turret can mount a 40mm grenade launcher. The Nigerian Army versions carry a .50 BMG (12.7x99mm NATO) Browning HMG.