The Santa Bárbara Sistemas weapons factory in Trubia (Asturias) started on Friday, December 17, the manufacture of the barges of the first VCR8x8 Dragon (Combat Vehicle on Wheels) of the Spanish Army, a platform designed on the basis of the Piranha 5. The production of the barges of the new armored vehicle officially began with an act of sheet metal cutting attended by a delegation of the Ministry of Defence, headed by the General Director of Armament and Material, Admiral Santiago Ramón González Gómez, and another of the Army, with Lieutenant General Fernando Miguel García y García de las Hijas, head of the Army’s Logistics Support Command. At the plant everything was ready for the start of production after months of intense work to adapt the facilities.
The objective of the VCR8x8 Dragon Program is to obtain an 8×8 Wheeled Combat Vehicle to replace the MRAPs (RG-31 and LINCE), M1 BMRs, M1 VECs and part of the TOAs fleet, incorporating new technical solutions to face the evolution of threats, taking into account both the experience accumulated by other countries around Spain, which have this type of vehicles, and the adaptation of the solution to the organic structure of the Spanish Army. With this objective in mind, the Ministry of Defense, through the Spanish General Directorate of Armament and Material (DGAM), initiated several years ago a series of technological programs whose objective was to reduce the risks associated with the development and acquisition of a vehicle with advanced characteristics, as well as to enable the national industry to play a leading role in the future supply of the VCR8x8 Dragon.
The development of these technological programs was entrusted to GDELS Santa Bárbara Sistemas S.A., Indra Sistemas S.A. and SAPA Operaciones S.L. The demonstrators built within these programs allowed these companies to mature the technologies necessary to address the challenge of executing the serial production phase of the VCR8x8 Dragon Program. These capabilities were further complemented by the design authority of Escribano Mechanical and Engineering S.L. on the armament subsystem, which is why the four companies agreed to form a national group of companies with sufficient industrial and technological capacity to cover all phases of the life cycle of the system. Thus, a new company, TESS Defence, was created to capitalize on the experience of its partners, relying on their strengths and resources, to lead the industrial effort in the next phases of the VCR8x8 Dragon Program.
TESS Defence was born as a clear example of industrial collaboration in the defense sector, with the firm objective of safeguarding Spanish strategic capabilities through the management of competitive programs that contribute to the national interest. To guarantee the manoeuvring capacity to Fuerza 35 through the development and supply of the VCR8x8 Dragon, the integrated logistic support to the vehicle and the support to the evolution of the system. To this end, Indra Sistemas S.A., Santa Bárbara Sistemas S.A., Sapa Placencia S.L. and Escribano Mechanical & Engineering S.L., leading companies in the sector, have joined forces to form the company that manages the Program for the supply of 348 Wheeled Combat Vehicles (VCR8x8 Dragon) for the Spanish Army.