As in previous year events, combat vehicle systems captured much of the outdoor area of Eurosatory 2004 and a significant part of the indoor section. On display were the new versions of wheeled APCs which are planned for replacement of aging APCs in several European armies. Two new 8×8 vehicles on display were the French VBCI and German Boxer, both designed for similar missions supporting light and medium weight mechanized forces, designed for out of area operations and urban warfare scenarios, as part of modern high mobility forces. The futuristic French EBRC vehicle was not presented here but was widely referred to in an impressive presentation of future combat systems. The Boxer was displayed here with the Virtus driver’s enhanced vision system. These two vehicles are pioneering a new generation of APCs which is now supported by the larger European industries such as Giat in France and KMW in Germany. Sofar, such designs were pursued only by defense industries in non-NATO countries such as the Pandur II (Styre Daimler Puch – Austria), AMV (Finland – Patria) and Piranha (Mowag – Switzerland). Plans for the development of new family of wheeled AFVs were also announced, by Iveco. The first Iveco VBC command vehicle derivative of the 8×8 Centauro 105mm mobile gun system was displayed here for the first time. Other derivatives considered for this family include an Armored IFV, equipped with 25mm turreted gun, armored ambulance, an engineering vehicle, mobile mortar (fitted with the Thales DRD2 system) and an up-gunned 120mm Centauro mobile gun system. A different concept for close fire support was presented by the Russian T-72 Tank Support System. The system packs rapid firing 2x30mm gun, long range and missiles to support armored elements in close-in combat in open terrain or urban terrain, effectively engaging dismounted infantry and ATGW teams.
Another newcomer was the Alvis Hagglunds CV9035 MkIII tracked infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) currently competing on a Dutch requirement for over 200 AIFVs. Other displays presented by Alvis were oriented toward the upcoming British Army FRES program, (CTA turrets for Warrior), Skyranger, first introduced by Oerlikon and Mowag, was also on display.
Intelligence gathering is a dominant factor in modern net-centric warfare; scout and reconnaissance vehicles such as the FENEK, Stalker and Mantis are providing the essential organic eyes and ears for land forces. Specialized recce vehicles are also part of the French BOA net centric concept, visualized in details at the Thales pavilion.
Upgrading programs were demonstrated for a number of armored vehicles, including the Leclerc SXXI tank upgrade which will be implemented in operational and new production tanks. Further enhancements are expected to be included with AMX-10P and EBG armored engineer vehicles. Among upgrades introduced for the AMX-10RC are the introduction of thermal imager and BMC, survivability improvements (top armor protection, Gallix defensive aids suit (KBCM), reinforced suspension, aided gearbox control, improved stations ans stowage capacity.
Among the all-armored and mine protected vehicles shown here were the MLV displayed in both British and Italian versions, Mowag Eagle IV, the Belgian Iguana and Australian Bushmaster mine protected vehicles and German Dingo 2 which is also marketed by Textron Marine & Land Systems.