Chile opens tender for new wheeled armored vehicles

SANTIAGO, Chile — The Chilean Army is soliciting bids as part of its bid to acquire 40 new eight-wheeled, armored all-terrain personnel carriers.

The new platforms are to replace a fleet of 160 mobile Mowag Piranha armored vehicles, built locally under license by Cardoen Industries in the 1980s and assigned to infantry units in central Chile.

Several companies, including the United States’ General Dynamics Land Systems, Italy’s IVECO, Finland’s Patria and Turkey’s Otokar and BMC, have expressed interest in the potential $111.8 million contract.

Chile plans to award and complete a contract within the first quarter of 2024.

The potential business from winning this contract goes beyond its initial financial value, as the country is seeking more than 200 armored vehicles in the long term, according to military sources in Santiago who spoke to Defense News on condition of anonymity because they were he is not authorized to speak to the press.

The government had considered buying used vehicles or licensed local production, but ultimately rejected that approach. Now, the requirements are for brand new vehicles with a maximum weight of 38 tons, with all equipment, including weapons and communication systems, mounted on the platform.

This maximum weight requirement – ​​more than three times the 11-tonne weight of the Piranha vehicles – reflects Chile’s expectation that the new vehicle offers much higher levels of survivability and protection to the combat troops on board.

The country also requires the vehicle to meet NATO STANAG 4569 level 3 standard. This means the vehicle body must withstand grenade and mine blasts with up to 8 kg of explosives and withstand 7.62mm x 51 tungsten carbide core piercing bullets at a maximum distance of 30 meters at a velocity of 930 meters per second.

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Chile also requires level 3A of the same standard, meaning the vehicle can survive a mine or improvised explosive device detonated under any wheel. In addition, the platform must meet Level 3B specifications to survive the same type of explosion under the center of the vehicle’s hull.

The vehicles included in the intended order, in addition to four command station vehicles, should include a remote-controlled weapons station with a .50 caliber M2 machine gun and a Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher. All vehicles will be equipped with optional 7-caliber machine guns .62 mm and two quadruple smoke grenade launchers.

Chile began considering replacing its Piranha vehicles in the early 2010s, but the transfer of half the fleet to the uniformed national police from 2018 has added urgency.

The police force, known as the Carabineros, deployed its Piranha vehicles to a so-called long-range south in southern Chile, where indigenous people from the Mapuche group are rebelling against the Chilean government’s use of the land. The Army has also deployed its Piranha vehicles in the southern region, where special forces and infantry troops have been supporting the police there since 2020.

This first batch of new armored vehicles is to be assigned to the 1st “Buin” Infantry Regiment, based in Santiago. The regiment provides a mechanized infantry battalion to the Southern Cross, a joint Chilean-Argentine formation available for UN peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

But the headquarters of the future fleet will be at the Peldehue military camp, a large training ground north of Santiago. From there, the vehicles will be available to train infantry troops from other Chilean Army units.

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