March 1, 2010:
Russia wants to buy about ten French VBL 4x4 armored scout cars. This four ton vehicle has been around for twenty years, and 2,300 are in service (nearly 40 percent with export customers). The VBL has a top speed of over 100 kilometers an hour and is bulletproof (against 7.62mm rounds) and shell fragments. The vehicle seats up to four, and usually carries a ring mounted 7.62mm machine-gun, although some are armed with anti-tank missiles. Max range, with internal and external fuel, is about 1,000 kilometers.
Russia is apparently buying the vehicles for evaluation and examination, to see if they can pick up some new ideas. The Russian combat vehicle industry has largely evaporated in the last two decades, and Russia is rebuilding this essential (to Russia) manufacturing capability based on Western manufacturing techniques, and the most modern combat vehicle technologies. Russia could use something like the VBL for internal security (Ministry of Interior troops, which outnumber those in the army), as well as the army.