With a weight of 35 tons, the VCR 8×8 Dragon limits its growth capacity for the army –

Over the past few years we have analyzed the worrying weight gain of the 8×8 kite of the wheeled combat vehicle (VCR) that the Spanish army will be equipping. So far the maximum weight in the order of combat was 33 tons, but the possibility of increasing this weight to 35 tons is being investigated. This means that none of the versions should definitely exceed this number, with the variant with the manned tower being the one that comes closest to this limit.

This data in and of itself doesn’t have to be bad, but it is noticeable when compared to current models on the market. The Mowag Piranha 5 from General Dynamics European Land Systems, from which the kite takes off, has a takeoff weight of 17 tons plus 13 cargo, ie 30 tons with a growth capacity of up to 33. Two more 8x8s of the modern design like the Patrias AMV XP and Nexters VBCI are planted in battle order with 32 tons, that is, with fuel and ammunition. Another case is the Boxer, whose modular structure distinguishes it from other armored vehicles in its category and whose size increases it to 38.5 tons in its A3 version. Suffice it to remember that its main user, the German Armed Forces, needs two A400M transport planes to transport three of these 8x8s and to split the mission modules between them.

The importance of weight is how it affects the mobility of the vehicle, especially when the power-to-weight ratio is affected. With this in mind, the head of the Dragn Motopropulsor Group (GMP), Sapa, confirms that both Scania DC13 engines have an output of 724 hp. the maximum power, as the binary logic transmission SW624 has been adapted to the weight of the 8×8. The GMP is ready to keep the power to weight ratio within the above 35 tons. In addition, the driver has the option of selecting three engine power levels as required, with an economical mode that also complies with the regulations. Euro 3 pollution control These performance levels are available thanks to three software cards for the main electronic control unit. Recently it was announced that the kite can reach a speed of 100 km / h.

However, an unforeseen increase in weight has a negative effect on the vehicle’s suspension and steering assembly, reducing its functionality in the field, conditioning the life of the shock absorbers, or redesigning the assembly of shock absorbers and springs or even the axles. Transmission.

In addition, the kite is close to the limit of the weight that can be carried by the Air Force’s workhorse, the Airbus Defense and Space A400M, which indicates a maximum load capacity of 37 tons, a value that, however, depends on the nature of the mission to which it is required. carry out.

With an estimated useful life in the Army of at least 30 years, but taking into account the veterans of the current media it could be extended to 40, it would be wise to ensure the dragon’s ability to grow in all possible aspects. Future threats, as well as advancement in technology, suggest that over the course of your life you will receive improvements in the form of armor, weapon systems, and other equipment that seldom weighs less than the equipment being exchanged. For example, an active protection system like the current one would mean adding at least one more ton to the vehicle, which is why giving birth with a high weight could determine this future development.

With weapons systems, it is enough to remember that the Spanish Marines are considering purchasing an 8×8 vehicle with a 105 or 120 mm turret. that because of the obvious logistical advantages it would be optimal to ride the kite. However, with a weight of around 7 tons including ammunition and armor, it would not currently be possible to mount it on the kite without modifying it in depth.

It is also a maximum that deploying a combat unit in an operational area, especially if it is a combat mission, usually involves overloading a vehicle that is beyond the ideal. The unpredictability of combat suggests that you are stocking up on fuel, ammunition, personal equipment, and everything, especially if the duration of the mission is longer than expected.

The weight of the armor

An important chapter that should be analyzed in the near future is that of armor and its weight, without going into the options that might be considered to solve this problem. In addition to the ship built with the highest level of protection, the options available to increase the level of protection of the 8×8 have been considered under the Technological Risk Reduction Program under the Technology Program 1 for increased safety. Technologies such as the friend-foe identification AMIGOS from Indra were evaluated or analyzed, the laser alarms that we analyzed in 2017 (the E-LAWS 2 receivers from Elbit Systems could be seen in two of the distant 30 mm towers) pulled), acoustic detectors like the Metravib V-pillar (integrated by GMV) or trigger electronics, RPG protection kits (C-RPG), three different mine accessories (C-IED), additional armor kits and even active shields are given the interest of the army.

Of these systems, the major weight gain corresponds to passive shielding. It is therefore important to incorporate the most advanced shielding systems that offer less weight while maintaining the same level of protection and make it easier to integrate new developments as they become available. Another option is to firmly rely on active shielding. Although the technology is mature enough, replacing or reducing the passive shielding and betting protection only on the active system can be a decision that goes beyond technology and is doctrinal in nature.

Another approach to increasing the level of protection is to operate the vehicle as far away from the danger zone as possible, in the style of aircraft with their standoff systems and with the highest speed and agility, which has a negative impact on weight. However, as we move away, we need to build in sensors and weapon systems with a greater range, which allow us to know the situation on the battlefield from a greater distance, and with effectors with greater range, which in the case of the main weapon would mean ever greater ones Incorporating caliber led to the July debate last year over the 50mm Bushmaster cannon. Likewise, the range of the other weapon system of the 8×8, such as. Its Spike LR multipurpose missile, for example, will be increased with the introduction of its modernized LR2 version, with other members of the ER dome family in service for the Tigre or NLOS helicopters, with a range of 20 miles. (Jos M Navarro Garca)

Photo: The 8×8 Dragon platform, in this case with additional armor

The SW624 gearbox of the 8×8 (Sapa)

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