The Council of Ministers has approved the conclusion of a contract for the manufacture of 8x8 wheeled combat vehicles.
The object of the contract is the supply of manufacturing of the first production batch of 348 Vehiculos de Combate a Ruedas (8x8 Wheeled Combat Vehicles, VCR 8x8) in 13 different configurations, including the respective components of mission systems (armament, level of protection, sensors, communications and command and control systems) as well as Logistic Support (AL) products derived from the corresponding Logistic Support Analysis (AAL). (The VCR 8x8 is a Mowag Piranha 5 armored vehicle adapted to Spanish Army requirements—Ed.)
The attack suffered in June 2007 in Lebanon, in which six soldiers died, showed the vulnerability of the vehicles then in use, which motivated defense minister José Antonio Alonso and, later, Carme Chacón to initiate the program to replace the fleet of wheeled armored vehicles.
It was later decided to also replace the vehicles used in peacekeeping operations (BMR) with others that better meet conditions.
Thus, the object of this contract is to renew the fleet of combat vehicles in service with the Spanish Army (BMR, VEC, Lince, RG-31, TOA M-113, VCZ) with a single, modular vehicle based on an open architecture.
These vehicles will provide the capability to protect the Forces that cannot be achieved at present with the Army's BMR vehicles, which are already obsolete and have fully completed their life cycle.
The contract that has now been authorized has its origins in the decision by the Council of Ministers of November 2, 2007, which approved the 'Armed Forces Renewal Plan' that called for procuring a new wheeled armored vehicle to replace the obsolete Blindados Medios sobre Ruedas (Medium Wheeled Armored Vehicle, BMR). However, the program was interrupted due to lack of funding.
The requirement to provide our Armed Forces with an operational vehicle that guaranteed both the efficiency of military operations and the safety of its crew determined the need to resume the program. The Council of Ministers of July 31, 2015, authorized the award of the contract for the development of technologies for a future 8x8 wheel combat vehicle (VCR 8X8) that led to the acquisition that has now been approved.
It is also important to note that by agreement of the Council of Ministers of December 14, 2018, the limits established in article 47 of the General Budget Law were modified to acquire expenditure commitments, in order to enable the Ministry of Defense to reschedule the annuities of the Special Programs of Modernization of the Armed Forces derived from the acquisition of 348 units of 8x8 Wheeled Combat Vehicles.
The authorized administrative contract is within the legal business excluded from the scope of application of Law 24/2011, of August 1, of public sector contracts in the fields of defense and security under article 7.1.b., according to the declaration of the Ministry of Defense's defense and essential security interests, dated July 1, 2019, and the estimated value of the contract amounts to € 2,083,275,262.81, distributed in annuities which extend from 2019 to 2030.
Currently, Santa Bárbara Sistemas is the main contractor and the Technical Integration Authority, together with the companies Indra and SAPA as first-level subcontractors, as it is the only option with sufficient industrial capacity to complete the contract.
The development of the program will strengthen the Spanish industrial base by obtaining a national product, integrated and with the design authority in Spain, technologically advanced and world-class, with many export possibilities because it is in high demand in all Armies.
In addition, it will have a significant impact on the economies of Alcalá de Guadaira (Seville), Trubia, (Asturias), Aranjuez (Madrid) and Andoain (Guipúzcoa), towns in which the companies participating in the project have production plants.
In total, it is estimated that the production of the new armored vehicle will generate some 650 direct jobs, and another 1,000 indirect ones.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: As presently envisioned, the VCR program will produce 1,000 vehicles, divided into three batches: one with 348 vehicles, to be completed by 2022; a second one with 365 additional vehicles to be ordered in 2022, and a third batch of 287 vehicles to follow at a later date.
The total program cost is estimated at 3.836.2 billion euros.)