Panhard VCR (Vehicle de Combat a Roues)
6-Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier (APC)
The French-made Panhard VCR Armored Personnel Carrier went on to see rather modest sales to foreign parties.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Panhard has had a long-running, storied history for the nation of France, providing products for a range of industries including civilian, commercial, and military. During the Cold War period (1947-1991), the company excelled at development and production of light-armored, wheeled combat vehicles for the French military and a plethora of foreign customers and one product of the period became the Panhard VCR ("Vehicule de Combat a Roues"). This six-wheeled vehicle was developed as a private venture primarily with the export market in mind, made to be budget-conscious (as such based in the existing Panhard ECR 6x6 vehicle) for the most discerning of buyers. The end-result became an amphibious-capable, 6x6 wheeled offering able to undertake several battlefield roles.
The VCR remains in limited service with a few select global operators and has seen combat as recently as the Iraqi Civil War of 2014-2017 under the flag of the rebuilding Iraqi Army.
The complete system is a 7.9 ton vehicle measuring 4.8 meters long with a beam of 2.5 meters and a height up to 2.13 meters. Internally, the vehicle is crewed by up to three personnel and can carry up to nine combat-ready infantrymen under light armor protection (up to 12mm, suitable against small arms fire and artillery "spray"). NightVision (NV) equipment is supported as is an NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) suite.
The VCR is driven by a Peugeot PRV V-6 diesel-fueled engine developing 145 horsepower to a conventional 6x6 wheeled arrangement (the inner axle can be raised from the road as needed). Tires are of the run-flat variety giving the crew an additional survival capability. It is further suspended across all of the road wheels allowing for some cross-country travel ability. Operational range reaches out to 700 kilometers while road speeds maximize at 90 kilometers-per-hour.
Typically, the armament fit is modest, revolving around a trainable, roof-mounted 12.7mm Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) for anti-infantry / Anti-Aircraft (AA) use. Additionally, the vehicle can sport the "HOT" French Anti-Tank Guided-Missile (ATGM) to provide for a ranged tank-killing / armor-defeating capability. This is in addition to any personal weapons carried by the crew / occupants. Optional weapons marketed, at one time, for the VCR line included a complete turreted 20mm automatic cannon, "MILAN" ATGM support, and a 60mm field mortar for indirect fire support.
Debuting in 1977, the VCR undertook production in 1979 and eventually found a limited market with operators in Argentina, Iraq, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE became the largest operator of the series with some eighty-two trucks taken into service. Beyond this were forty-six vehicles purchased by the Mexican government and forty-four operated by the rebuilding Iraqi Army. Another twenty-four of the type went to the Argentine Army.
Variants in the line have included the "VCR/AT" which was developed for the dedicated Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) role completed with heavy-duty crane and tow bar. There was also the "VCR/IS" to serve as a battlefield ambulance and the "VCR/PC" outfitted for the Command Post (CP) role. The "VCR/TH" was equipped with the Euromissile UTM-800 series turret supporting 4 x HOT ATGMs and a 7.62mm GIAT "Mascot" remotely-controlled gun station (the latter at the rear).
The VCR/TT "Hydrojet" became a localized 4x4 wheeled Argentine Army model modified for amphibious operations. Changes to the design included removal of the inner axle to support waterjets for water-born travel (other VCR forms, while amphibious by design, rely solely on the rotation of the road wheels for propulsion).
The base VCR design form was further prototyped in an airspace denial weapon system model under the "VCR/AA" designation, this entry fielding Saab RBS-70 Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs). it was not furthered.
The VCR remains in limited service as of this writing (2019).