Dacia Duster 4x4 with Romanian UMB 7.62mm RCWS

Among the sometimes surprising conversions or adaptations designed and manufactured in Romania, there is one that can most probably claim to be the "best cost" armed car available: a Dacia Duster equipped with a Remotely Controlled Weapon Station armed with a 7.62mm machine gun.

Dacia Duster 4x4 with Romanian Agil 7.62mm RCWS
Dacia Duster 4x4 with 7.62mm Remotely Controlled Weapon Station manufactured by UMB (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The Black Sea Defense and Aerospace (BSDA) event held in Bucharest from May 16-18 brought some surprises to visitors. Among the conversions or adaptations sometimes surprising, designed and manufactured in Romania, there is one that has attracted a lot of attention because this vehicle can very probably claim to be the cheapest automaker on the market: a Dacia Duster 4 × 4 equipped with 7.62mm remotely controlled machine gun.

RomTurungia is a manufacturer of conversions and special adaptations ordered by Dacia in Romania. RomTuringia and UMB (Uzina Mecanica Bucuresti) developed this armed version of a Dacia 4 × 4 Duster on call for tenders from the Romanian army at the request of NATO. The whole work was conducted under the direction of Renault Technologie Roumanie (RTR).

As a reminder, Dacia is a Romanian car manufacturer, a subsidiary of the French Renault group. The vehicles produced are marketed under the Dacia brand in Europe and under the Renault brand in the rest of the world. In 2017, 610,150 Dacia cars and 637,700 Renault vehicles were produced. The "Dacia" name corresponds to the Latin form of the name of the Roman province that corresponds to present-day Romania: Dacia. Since 1999, Dacia is a subsidiary of the Renault group. Under the leadership of Louis Schweitzer, Dacia has undertaken a modernization of the Piteşti factory and the vehicles manufactured there. The Duster (4 × 4) marketed in March 2010 is proving to be a real commercial success, with a full order book over more than six months, to the extent that some used models are selling at a higher price than in nine. In September 2017, after seven years of marketing (36,428 units in 2016 in France (+ 5.6%) and 135,717 units in Europe (+ 10.5%)), Dacia presented the second generation of its Duster fighter at the Paris Air Show. The Frankfurt Motor Co., The Duster II has been on the market since January 2018. But with the move upmarket thanks to a more refined finish and various more ergonomic equipment, Dacia evacuated its "low cost" slogan in favor of "best cost". In February 2018, Dacia announced the sale of its 1,000,000th vehicle sold in France, the year of its fiftieth anniversary.

Let's come back to what should be called the "armed car" Dacia. The Remotely Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS) was designed by the Romanian company UMB (Ueina Mecanica Bucuresti). This RCWS weighs 140kg. The operator of the machine gun sits on the passenger seat and uses a simple box with joystick system developed by the Romanian company Digitalbit, the overall development work being conducted by Renault Technologie Romania, currently chaired by Viorel Salan. The stabilization of the RCWS benefits from its articulation on a tubular structure whose design and attachment to the chassis of the vehicle are more complex than it seems at first sight. Live fire tests were successfully conducted on a polygon of the Romanian army (Forces Operations viewed the film).

The Dacia plant in Russia has developed various additional Kevlar shielding plates for bodywork and headlights, as well as armored glass. The protection offered is nevertheless limited, because the vehicles retain their original gasoline engine and, consequently, can not accept overweight which is too penalizing.

Why stop now while everything is going so well? This "armored car" can see its mobility considerably increased by the replacement of four wheels by tracks designed and manufactured by ACF Industrie, a Romanian company founded by Pierre Levivier, a French industrialist established in Bucharest for more than ten years. The compatibility of the tracks with the body of the Duster has been studied in cooperation with RomTuringia. It only takes one hour to switch wheels and tracks, without any other modification of the vehicle being necessary but the maximum speed is obviously reduced, in this case about 60 km / h. The Romanian gendarmerie, companies and individuals have become frequent customers of ACF Industrie, which is also a great success elsewhere in Central Europe, Russia, Latin America and even some customers in the Gulf region where other vehicles are equipped with ACF tracks: Jeep Wrangler, VW Amarok pickup and Ford Ranger pickup. ACF Industrie may exhibit one or more vehicles at Eurosatory 2018, June 10-15.