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Berliet VXB-170

Armored Car / Internal Security Vehicle [ 1973 ]

The French VXB-170 was rebuffed by the French Army but taken into service by the Gendarmerie for security work while also seeing light export.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 04/19/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Societe des Automobiles Berliet (Berliet) VXB-170 was a French-originated, Cold War-era light-armored 4x4 vehicle developed as a private venture to satisfy a French Army requirement. The series - though rebuffed by the Army - was adopted in 1972 and entered service through a 155-unit order in 1973 with the Gendarmerie instead who prized its inherent values for heavier-duty security work. Export of the vehicle was limited to just Gabon and Senegel and fewer than 200 units were eventually completed.

For their part, the French Army elected for the competing "VAB" armored car (detailed elsewhere on this site).

The Berliet armored car tipped the scales at 14 tons (short) and had a length of 19.7 feet, a beam of 8 feet, and a height to hull roof of 6.8 feet. Armor protection was light, ranging up to 7mm in thickness across the welded steel hull. Inside was a typical operating crew of three and a further eight passengers could be carried in the rear section of the fighting cabin. The engine was situated in the aft-section of the hull and drove the 4x4 wheeled arrangement which included large, oversized rubber tires giving the chassis excellent ground clearance. The vehicle was powered by a Berliet V800M series 8-cylinder diesel-fueled unit outputting 170 horsepower to the all-wheel arrangement.

Operational ranges reached 470 miles while road speeds capped at 55 miles-per-hour.

Its silhouette was highly conventional with angles used to offer basic ballistics protection to the crew and internal operating systems alike. The vehicle was also optionally amphibious, able to ford water sources as needed (either through use of hydrojets or the motion of its wheels) while the all-wheel arrangement gave it both good on-road and cross-country performance to boot. A powered winch system was an optional accessory as was an over-hull enclosed turret complete with vision blocks. All of the glass panels were made bullet-resistant and gun ports were provided along the hull sides to give occupants the ability to counter threats from the relative safety of the car. Hinged entry/exit doors were positioned at both sides of the hull (near the midway point) and one at the rear hull wall (offset to right due to the engine's placement at left). There were also five roof hatches (including the commander's position).

The pilot vehicles were designated "BL-12" and these began appearing in 1968. Original market offerings envisioned by the company went on to include internal security, reconnaissance / patrol, and light combat forms while another planned dedicated model was to incorporate a two-man, 60mm mortar-and-machine-gun-armed turret for the fire support role - all of these planned offshoots set to rely on a common chassis (relying on off-the-shelf truck components) to keep procurement and operational costs to a minimum.

When armed, the French Gendarmerie cars were equipped with through a 7.62mm machine gun seated alongside a 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) in a turret over the commander's hatch but customers could essentially mix-and-match armament to better suit the mission role as needed and what was locally available. The turret offered the commander complete 360-degree traversal about the roof line of the vehicle.

Berliet was eventually absorbed by Saviem to become Renault Trucks by 1975, bringing about an end to VXB-170 production and leaving the Gendarmerie as the largest, most notable operator of the series.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

France national flag graphic

In Limited Service.

Societe des Automobiles Berliet / Saviem / Renault Trucks - France
(View other Vehicle-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of France National flag of Gabon National flag of Senegal France (internal security only); Gabon; Senegal
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Amphibious Assault
Traverse bodies of open water under own power with / without preparation.
Infantry Support
Support allied ground forces through weapons, inherent capabilities, and / or onboard systems.
Armored Car
Design, of typically lightweight nature, providing onroad/offroad capabilities for the scouting or general security roles.
Can conduct reconnaissance / scout missions to assess threat levels, enemy strength, et al - typically through lightweight design.
General utility-minded design to accomplish a variety of battlefield tasks, typically in a non-direct-combat fashion.
Special Purpose
Special purpose design developed to accomplish an equally-special battlefield role or roles.

Wheeled Arrangement
Wheeled arrangement gives this system an inherent road-running capability, enhancing mobility.
Primary Turret
A modern tank quality, this vehicle sports its main armament in a single turret.
Traversable Main Armament
Armament is situated in a traversing component, allowing for all-around engagement of enemy threats.
System can enter and traverse open water sources - either rivers, lakes, and streams; Amphibious Assault operation support.
Cross-Country Capability
Design includes such features as a track-link system or high ground clearance to better traverse offroad.
Angled Armor
Angled armor at key facings adds inherent ballistics protection to the vehicle.
Shallow Glacis
The shallow design of the glacis plate provides the vehicle with inherent ballistics protection as well as contributes to a lower overall profile - making it more difficult to disable.
Crew has access to night-vision equipment, allowing for low-light or night time operations.
Vehicle features an in-built anti-infantry capability for local defense of the vehicle or general troop suppression.
Troop Carrier
Vehicle (or its variants) has an inherent troop-carrying capability, providing protected cover for embarked allies in contested areas.
Gun Ports
Vehicle allows occupants to engage outside targets from within the confines (and safety) of the vehicle.
Vehicle's proven running gear and overall makeup lends itself well to fulfill other battlefield roles by way of specialized designs.

19.7 ft
5.99 m
8.2 ft
2.5 m
6.7 ft
2.05 m
27,999 lb
12,700 kg
14.0 tons
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Berliet VXB-170 production variant. Length typically includes main gun in forward position if applicable to the design)
Powerplant: 1 x Berliet V800M 8-cylinder diesel-fueled engine driving conventional all-wheel 4x4 arrangement.
52.8 mph
(85.0 kph)
466.0 mi
(750.0 km)
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Berliet VXB-170 production variant. Compare this entry against any other in our database)
Two-man turret with 1 x 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher and 1 x 7.62mm Anti-infantry machine gun.

Supported Types

Graphical image of a tank medium machine gun
Graphical image of infantry-level automatic grenade launcher

(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
300 x 40mm grenades.
1,000 x 7.62mm ammunition.

VXB-170 - Base Series Designation; base troop carrier.
VXB-170C - Command vehicle.
VXB-170M - Special-mission model with either powered winch or dozer blade.
VXB-170R - Planned reconnaissance / patrol variant.
VXB-170LC - Planned Light Combat Vehicle.

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Similar Land Systems

Battlefield developments of similar form and function, or related to, the Berliet VXB-170...


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