Logistics: Civilians Making Battlefield Repairs


September 7,2008:  As France begins receiving their new wheeled (like the U.S. Stryker) IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle), the VBCI (Véhicule Blindé de Combat d'Infanterie), they are also implementing an innovative new support concept. The new twist, for insuring that the VBCI has a 95 percent readiness rate while stationed overseas (on peacekeeping or combat duty), is a maintenance contract. The contractor will also supervise maintenance while the vehicles are in France at their home bases. The French Army is paying the Nexter company $77 million a year for this service.

The new French vehicle is the VBCI. It's an 8x8, 25 ton vehicle with a crew of two, plus a nine man infantry squad 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 has ordered 550 of the infantry version, and 150 command post (more electronics, fewer people) versions. The VBCI will replace tracked AMX10 infantry vehicles. The VBCI vehicles cost about $5.5 million each.

This maintenance contract arrangement is increasingly popular in Europe, particularly Britain. Nexter, like other contractors providing this service, bill according to how heavily the vehicle is used. Repairing battle damage costs extra. This maintenance concept has long been used in the commercial sector, including heavy and complex equipment used in rough neighborhoods (like oil exploration and extraction in harsh environments). So the military believes it will work for the military. In some respects, the U.S. has proved the concept, without using these contracts, by using a large number of civilian contractors for vehicle maintenance and repair.



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