As French troops become more involved in Afghan combat, the generals are eager to send more new equipment there to help out, and see how the new gear performs. The latest example is the shipment of new VBCI armored vehicles to Afghanistan.
Last year, France ordered a second batch of its new VBCI armored vehicle. This order, of 332 vehicles, brings the total bought so far to 630. Eventually, the French Army wants 700 VBCIs. This purchase is part of a trend. Like most other European nations, France is replacing some of their tracked armored infantry vehicles with wheeled ones (like the U.S. Stryker). The VBCI is an 8x8, 25 ton vehicle with a crew of three, plus eight troops in the back. Armament consists of a 25mm autocannon, and a 7.62mm machine-gun. Like the Stryker, the VBCI has very up-to-date sensors and electronics. France is getting 550 of the infantry version, and 150 command post (more electronics, fewer people) versions. The BCI will replace tracked AMX10 infantry vehicles. The VBCI vehicles cost about $5.5 million each, and first deliveries began two years ago.