French state-owned group Nexter Systems, a KNDS group company, was supplying the VBCI, a “combat proven” reference for wheeled armored vehicles, equipped with the T40 turret, to the Bulgarian army. Bulgaria plans to buy 198 vehicles as part of a programme to modernise its armed forces, which will include upgrading its naval capability and purchasing eight new or secondhand fighter jets. Several other firms have also expressed interest in supplying AMVs to the Bulgarian army. They include Finland’s Patria, Germany’s Rheinmetall Defence AG, U.S.-based Textron Inc and Swiss firm Mowag, which is part of General Dynamics’ European Land Systems Group, according to sources familiar with the matter.
If Nexter is awarded the contract, it plans to produce the AMVs in cooperation with Bulgarian companies if possible, Nexter’s offer includes two types of armoured vehicles – VBCI with the T40 40mm CTA gun turret, which is an 8×8 wheel vehicle, and TITUS, which is a 6×6. Aware of budget constraints of all governments, Nexter products are defined and manufactured with the aim of having a very low LCC (Life Cycle Cost, including purchase, maintenance, use and terminal performance) compared to other rival platforms.
The Véhicule Blindé de Combat d’Infanterie (VBCI, “Armoured vehicle for infantry combat”) is a French Infantry fighting vehicle designed to replace the AMX-10P. They entered active service with the French Army in 2008, with 630 vehicles ordered up to 2010. The VBCI is built on an aluminium hull which carries a modular THD steel and titanium armour, which can be replaced in the field. The 8×8 wheel combination is designed to make the VBCI more comfortable and less costly than a tracked vehicle, while giving it sufficient mobility to back the tank. The VBCI is also designed to be transportable by the Airbus A400M, with an empty mass less than 18 tonnes (full load mass up to 28 tonnes).
Tactical Infantry Transport and Utility System or TITUS is a new modular armoured wheeled vehicle unveiled by Nexter Systems. The armoured wheeled vehicle is mounted on a Tatra 6×6 chassis. The vehicle has a length of 7.55m, width of 2.55m and height of 2.73m. The TITUS is covered with a last generation modular armoured skin and incorporates Nexter’s patented SAFEPRO design providing a level two to level four ballistic protection, mines level 4a and 4b protection, and protection against heavy (improvised explosive device) IED blasts of up to 150kg.