Combat vehicles / Reconnaissance / VBC-90


General Facts

  • TYPE
    Reconnaissance vehicle





    1983 - 1985

    France - Renault

    A total of 34 have been produced.


    Powerful armament
    Parts commonality with VAB
    Good mobility
    Limited armor protection
    Non-stabilized armement


The VBC-90 is a Cold War era reconnaissance vehicle of French origin. Due to its heavy armament it may double as tank destroyer or fire support vehicle. It was developed in the late 1970's using the automotive components of the successful VAB armored personnel carrier. Unlike the VAB the VBC-90 was produced only in limited numbers. The name VBC-90 stands for Véhicule Blindé de Combat, which is French for armored combat vehicle. The number 90 refers to the caliber of its gun.


The VBC-90 is based on the chassis of the 6x6 variant of the VAB armored personnel carrier. Compared to the VAB the hull has a lower roofline and the engine has been moved to the rear. The driver is seated in the front hull in a sort of canopy with relatively large windows. The commander and gunner are located in the TS-90 turret that is also used on other types of armored vehicles.


The main armament consists of a 90mm full pressure rifled cannon and 7.62mm AAT-NF1 or MAG coaxial machine gun. A total of 45 rounds are carried for the cannon. The 90mm cannon can be used to engage all combat vehicles except modern tanks. Older tanks can be engaged from the sides and rear since the armor penetration is 250 mm at 1 km range. Optionally a 7.62mm AAT-NF1 or MAG machine gun or 12.7mm M2HB heavy machine gun can be pintle mounted on the turret roof.


The steel hull protects the crew from small arms fire and shell splinters. A higher level of protection would reduce its mobility. This makes the VBC-90 vulnerable to autocannon, rocket launchers and all heavier armament. Two pairs of smoke grenade launchers are mounted on the turret. There is no NBC system.


The 6x6 chassis with large tires and its four wheel steering allow for a good all terrain mobility. The Renault 220 hp turbo diesel engine provides a very high maximum road speed of 92 km/h. Unlike the VAB the VBC-90 is not amphibious. The more compact hull and high center of gravity do not provide adequate buoyancy.


The main user of the VBC-90 is the French Gendarmerie which operates 28 vehicles. The 90mm cannon is very powerful considering the internal security role of these vehicles. A further 6 vehicles have been exported to Oman.



The VBC-90 is produced only in a single version. More had been planned but were never ordered. The VBC-90 is easy to recognize. The lower hull resembles the 6x6 VAB while the front hull is sloped and has large windows for the driver. The TS-90 turret is rather large for the size of the vehicle and the long smooth 90mm F1 cannon has a single baffle muzzle brake.

TypeReconnaissance vehicle
Crew3 (commander, driver, gunner)
Length5.63 m (hull), 8.09 m (gun forward)
Width2.5 m
Height2.55 m
Ground clearance?
Weight12.25 t empty, 13.5 t combat load
Ground pressure?
WheelbaseWheeled chassis, 6x6, 1.5 + 1.5 m wheelbases, 2.04 m track, 14.00 x20 tires
Turn radius?
EngineRenault MIDS 06.20.45 6-cylinder turbo diesel, 220 hp at 2.200 rpm
Power ratio16.3 hp/t
TransmissionManual, 5 forward, 1 reverse
Speed92 km/h on road
Range1.000 km on road
Wall0.5 m
Trench1 m
Gradient50% gradient, 30% slope
Fording1.2 m
NBC equipmentNo
Night visionNo
Smoke2x2 80mm smoke grenade dischargers
Remarks6 t winch
Armament90mm F1 cannon
7.62mm AAT-NF1 coaxial machine gun
Weapon190mm F1 rifled cannon in turret
45 rounds, 20 ready to fire
-8 to +15° elevation, 1.5°/s manual, 360° traverse, 18°/s powered
Weapon27.62mm AAT-NF1 coaxial machine gun
4.000 rounds
elevation and traverse as main armament


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