Ground Warfare

Spanish Army Debuts VCZAP Castor Combat Engineering Vehicle in International Operations

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Spanish Army Debuts VCZAP Castor Combat Engineering Vehicle in International Operations

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Spanish Army Debuts VCZAP Castor Combat Engineering Vehicle in International Operations
Spanish Army Debuts VCZAP Castor Combat Engineering Vehicle in International Operations

The Spanish Army has reached a significant milestone with the deployment of the VCZAP “Castor” Combat Engineering Vehicle in international operations for the first time. This comes following the recent delivery of the vehicles by GDELS Santa Bárbara Sistemas. The VCZAP “Castor” will make its international debut at the Combat Training Center in Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, during the multinational exercise EURETEX2024. EURETEX 24 is a biannual tactical exercise conducted directly by EUROCORPS and planned by the EUROCORPS Engineer Branch since 1996. EURETEX 24 is a tactical-level exercise and aims to foster and enhance interoperability among engineers.

The contingent sent to Poland includes two units of the VCZAP “Castor,” which are part of the Pizarro/ASCOD family of vehicles. These units belong to the XII Engineering Combat Battalion of the “Guadarrama” Brigade. The “Guadarrama” Brigade is among the first in the Spanish Armed Forces to receive this state-of-the-art system, designed to support advanced military engineering and sapper operations. This deployment not only showcases the capabilities of the VCZAP “Castor” but also demonstrates Spain’s commitment to contributing cutting-edge technology to multinational defense efforts.

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VCZAP Castor Combat Engineering Vehicle
Spanish Army VCZAP Castor Combat Engineering Vehicle. (Photo by GDELS)

Based on the ASCOD (Austrian Spanish Cooperation Development) 2 Pizarro platform, the VCZAP Castor armored engineering vehicle (AEV) is capable of tasks such as leveling, filling trenches, and clearing obstacles. Under the Pizarro Phase 2 program, GDELS-SBS is contracted to supply a batch of 36 VCZAP vehicles, along with 83 Pizarro infantry fighting vehicles, to the Spanish Army. This includes a prototype of the Castor and 35 production units, each equipped with a Mini Samson remote turret armed with a 12.7 mm caliber heavy machine gun. It can assist in river crossing operations and can be equipped with a bulldozer blade, plow, roller, breach marking system, and a heavy mine-clearing hose launcher system type MICLIC (M-58).

The VCZAP Castor weighs between 31 and 35 tons and can carry up to 13 tons of mission elements, armor, and weaponry. It is also equipped with all-weather target acquisition systems, operated from within the vehicle and featuring a thermal camera, which enables accurate firing while the vehicle is in motion. The Castor shares its powertrain with the Pizarro Phase II, which includes an MTU 8V 199 TE20 engine of 720 HP from MTU and a SAPA SG850 binary logic transmission. Its platform also serves as the foundation for the development of the Pizarro Phase III. The ASCOD armoured fighting vehicle family is the product of a cooperation agreement between Austrian Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG and Spanish General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas.

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