NEWTOWN, Conn. - Spain's long awaited "Futuro Sistema de Combate Terrestre" requirement, intended to provide the Spanish Army with an 8x8 wheeled armored fighting vehicle (Vehículo de Combate sobre Ruedas, or VCR) to replace its obsolete 6x6 wheeled Pegaso BMRs, appears set to move ahead.
The country's Secretary of State for Defense, Vincente Conde, has announced to its legislature that a first-batch purchase of 348 Piranha V 8x8 armored fighting vehicles is planned. This would be followed by additional batch purchases in what may ultimately amount to around 1,000 vehicles.
The project - which forms part of the legacy Special Armaments Program involving 19 major defense procurement programs dating back to 1996 - began to take shape in August 2009 when the Spanish Defense Ministry issued requests for information (RFIs) to interested bidders. A winner was expected to be named in spring 2010, but the selection was postponed due to budgetary concerns stemming from the economic crash and a failed stimulus effort by the governing Socialist Party that blew up the country's deficit.
Severe financial pressures forced Spain to keep the project on the backburner for years. It was not until May 2015 that the Spanish Defense Ministry issued a fresh RFI to leading manufacturers to meet the VCR requirement. By December reports had indicated the Spanish Army had opted for the General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) Piranha V as the favored option.
GDELS' Spanish branch, Santa Barbara Sistemas, is currently working with two other local companies (Indra and Sapa) on the EUR89.2 million ($99 million) research and development portion of a contract with the Defense Ministry. This temporary joint venture - referred to as "UTE VCR 8x8" - is undertaking development of six different technological projects relating to security measures, situational awareness, long-range vision, engine fuel efficiency, and command-and-control. These elements are all part of meeting the goal of providing an 8x8 AFV platform for the Spanish Army capable of confronting and managing the hybrid threat environment of the modern battlefield. Further R&D contracts of the same cost are expected to go forward in 2018.
The first five test vehicles will be handed to the Spanish Army in 2018.
The total estimated budget for the Piranha V procurement is EUR3.8 billion ($4 billion), with EUR1.6 billion ($1.7 billion) involving the outright purchase and the remainder covering the maintenance and upgrade costs expected to incur over the 30-year life cycle of the vehicles.