Germany has officially lifted the embargo on critical components used in the 6X6 Guarani medium wheeled armored personnel carrier (VBTP-MSR), allowing for its export to the Philippines. Tecno Defesa reported that this move comes after months of intense negotiations involving various stakeholders, including governments and companies.The embargo had affected six key components:
- Ballistic Steel produced by thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG.
Anti-mine Ballistic Protection Plates produced by Rheinmetall Protection Systems GmbH (formerly IBD Deisenroth Engineering).
- Periscopes (M17 for the driver and M45 for the commander) produced by GuS glass + safety GmbH & Co.
- Homokinetic Half-Shafts produced by GKN Driveline Deutschland GmbH.
- Transmission (model 6HP 602S) produced by ZF Friedrichshafen AG.
- Cooling System Fan (Behr Y2991001 model) produced by MAHLE GmbH.
The embargo was imposed by Germany due to the presence of the Philippines on a sanctions list for military use goods, primarily stemming from alleged human rights violations in the country. Notably, this embargo also affected other military systems recently acquired by the Philippine Armed Forces, including components for the 8X8 Pandur II armored combat vehicles produced by Tatra Defence Vehicle under license from General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) in the Czech Republic. One of the primary components affected, the German ballistic steel, will only be used in the five Guarani vehicles already produced. Beginning this year, due to commercial considerations, it has been replaced by Swedish Armox, manufactured by SSAB Svenskt Stål AB. While USIMINAS Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA in Brazil does produce USI-PROT-500 ballistic steel, which is certified for the Guarani (with compliance to MIL-DTL-46100E standard), its limited demand volume results in higher production costs, justifying the temporary use of imported substitutes as contingency measures. IDV has already produced five units of this modified Guarani version, with plans to ship them in the coming weeks once customs formalities are completed, while the remaining 23 are in various stages of production.
The contract for the acquisition of 28 6X6 Guarani vehicles by the Philippine Army was signed with Israeli company Elbit Systems as the prime contractor on February 7, 2021. These vehicles will be produced at the IDV factory in Sete Lagoas, Brazil, and come at a cost of approximately $46 million, with delivery scheduled for 2023-2024. This contract is part of a broader “Government-to-Government” (Gov-to-Gov) military package facilitated through Israel’s Ministry of Defense’s Directorate of International Defense Cooperation (SIBAT), encompassing various weapon systems and potentially reaching a total of 114 Guarani vehicles. IDV has already produced five units of this modified Guarani version, with plans to ship them in the coming weeks once customs formalities are completed, while the remaining 23 are in various stages of production. The Philippine version of the Guarani differs from the one used by the Brazilian Army in several key aspects, including:
- Additional Ballistic Protection Plates: These STANAG 4569 (AEP-55) level 3 plates are produced at IDV’s Vittorio Veneto factory in Italy in collaboration with Italian company System Car.
- Battle Management System -X TM and Software-Defined Radio E-LynX TM: Both supplied by Elbit Systems.
- Remotely Controlled Weapon System (RCWS): Specifically designed to meet Philippine requirements, it is equipped with a heavy machine gun (caliber 12.7×99 mm or 7.62×51 mm).
- Hydraulic Winch: Installed at the rear of the vehicle with a capacity of 18 tons.
The VBTP-MR Guarani (Portuguese Viatura Blindada Transporte de Pessoal – Média de Rodas; “Armored Personnel Carrier Vehicle – Medium Wheeled Type”) is a 6×6 armoured personnel carrier developed by Iveco and the Brazilian Army as part of its “Urutu-III” modernization program aimed to replace all EE-11 Urutu by 2015. The 8×8 version of the VBTP-MR is the base of Iveco’s Superav armoured personnel carrier. Other Brazilian companies also participated in the program, such as IMBEL (Communications), Elbit (Armaments), Usiminas and Villares (development of national ballistic structural steel). The main feature of this new family should be its modular design, allowing the incorporation of different turrets, weapons, sensors and communications systems onto the same carriage. The development program also include a communications version, an ambulance version and different fire support versions, armed with large calibre mortar and gun systems. The Brazilian Army has signed with Iveco a contract worth about €2.5 billion for supplying armoured personnel carriers of the VBTP-MR model. The vehicles will replace the old Urutu armoured vehicle employed today by the Brazilian armed forces.