MANUFACTURER(S): BN Construcions Ferroviaries et Metalliques (BNCFM) - Belgium
Detailing the development and operational history of the BNCFM SIBMAS 6x6 Wheeled Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV).
Entry last updated on 9/28/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Emerging from BN Constructions Ferroviaries et Metalliques (BNCFM) of Belgium during the mid-1970s was the export-minded SIBMAS, a 6x6 wheeled armored vehicle with multi-role battlefield intentions. The base model became an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and an Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) and Armored Fire Support Vehicle (AFSV) were soon added to the line. Other marketed types included a mortar carrier, general cargo hauler, armored ambulance, and an armored command post vehicle as well as a variety of possible turret types. Highly traditional in its design, the SIBMAS was only adopted by the Army of Malaysia since its introduction in 1983. Development work began in 1975 producing a pilot vehicle the following year and deliveries to the Malaysian Army ended in 1985, totaling 186 units (including 24 of the ARV variety with the majority being the AFSV-90 mark).
The base IFV variant featured a standard operating crew of three with seating for up to eleven passengers in the rear fighting compartment. Drive power was from a MAN D2566 MK diesel-fueled turbocharged engine delivering 320 horsepower output and installed in a compartment at rear-left in the hull. The entire 6x6 wheeled arrangement was suspended for appropriate cross county capabilities. Road speeds can reach up to 100 kmh on ideal surfaces with operational ranges out to 1,000 kilometers. As an inherently amphibious armored vehicle, the SIBMAS could traverse water sources as required though speeds in such actions reached only 11 kmh - propulsion provided for by a twin propeller arrangement fitted at the lower rear of the hull.
The standard hull design was an all-modern offering with angled, faceted panels along the front and sides of the vehicle. The glacis plate itself was well sloped towards the hull roof line with the driver's compartment centered at front and behind thick bulletproof screens. Additional protection was provided through the flip-up armored visors along the three-panel window arrangement at the cockpit. Access doors for the crew and passengers were fitted along the sides of the vehicle (between the first and second axles). Thick glass vision ports were also found along the sides as were firing ports - the latter serving to allow the occupants to engage enemies with small arms fire from personal weapons typically carried by infantry elements. Road wheels were large, rubber-tired, and of the run-flat variety, giving excellent ground clearance in avoiding obstacles and keeping the belly of the vehicle as far away as possible from detonating mines or IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). Additional crew entry was granted at the rear of the vehicle hull as well.
The ARV model featured a standard operating crew of three and lost its troop-carrying capabilities as well as any turreted armament options. It did, however, feature the requisite heavy-lift crane and towing winch for the ARV role.
The aforementioned AFSV - the SIBMAS AFSV-90 - was outfitted with a 90mm Cockerill Mk III series gun in a traversing two-man turret seated atop the hull roof. The main gun armament was complemented by a 7.62mm FN MAG coaxial General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) installation. Additionally there was a 7.62mm anti-aircraft machine gun on the turret roof. The main gun was coupled to a modern Fire Control System (FCS) for assisted operation and improved first-hit probability. The turret also carried large banks of smoke grenade dischargers for self-screening. A pintle mounting at the rear hull allowed for an additional machine gun to be installed and operated by a passenger through one of the available hull roof hatches.