GDELS starts production of VCR Dragon 8x8 armored vehicles for Spanish Army

According to information released on December 17, 2021, The manufacturing of the 8x8 'Dragon' Wheeled Combat Vehicle (RCV) for the Spanish Armed Forces has started in the Trubia Factory (Asturias) of GDELS (General Dynamics European Land Systems) - Santa Bárbara Sistemas with the cutting of the first steel armor plate.
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A prototype of the VCR Dragon was presented at FEINDEF 2021, defense exhibition in Spain, November 2021. (Picture source Army Recognition)

The first series of vehicles of the VCR 8x8 'Dragon', intended to modernize the capabilities of the Spanish Army, are scheduled to be made available in the second semester of 2022.

The steel cutting ceremony was attended by the Director General of Armament and Material of the Ministry of Defense, Admiral Santiago Ramón González; the Chief of the Army Logistic Support Command, Lieutenant General Fernando Miguel García y García de las Hijas; the Minister of Industry, Employment and Industrial Promotion of the Government of Asturias, Enrique Fernández; the Mayor of Oviedo, Alfredo Canteli, and the Government Delegate in Asturias, Delia Losa.

The Trubia factory of GDELS-Santa Bárbara Sistemas has carried out in recent months, a series of deep adaptations and modernizations with the acquisition of the latest technology machinery that will strengthen the facilities as a European industrial reference in the manufacture of armored vehicles of last generation. For the period 2020-23, the company will invest in this center more than 14 million euros, of which a large part will go directly to the manufacture of the VCR 8x8 'Dragon'.

On 23 June 2020, the Spanish government announced that it had approved the production of 348 VCR 8×8 armored fighting vehicles, with the value of the order estimated to be around €2 billion. The vehicle will be manufactured by a joint venture of Spanish defense contractors led by Indra Sistemas, General Dynamics European Land Systems-Santa Barbara Sistemas (GDELS-SBS), Sapa Placencia and Escribano Mechanical & Engineering, with 70% of work to be conducted by Spanish companies in locations including Asturias, Madrid, and Seville.

The VCR Dragon is based on Piranha V designed and manufactured by the Swiss company MOWAG which is now a subdivision of GDELS (General Dynamics European Land System). The vehicle will be manufactured in 13 variants and the Spanish government could procure a total of 1,000 vehicles. The Piranha V has been modified with all national technologies as required by the Spanish Ministry of Defense.

Using technologies of the Piranha V, the VCR Dragon has a next-generation, full coverage, modular survivability system that has been integrated in the vehicle design from the concept stage. This system provides unparalleled all-around protection, particularly in the wheel well area that has traditionally been vulnerable to IEDs on wheeled armored combat vehicles.

The layout of the VCR Dragon is similar to the members of the MOWAG Piranha family with the driver position at the front left, power pack to his right, turret in the center, and troop’s compartment at the rear. The armor of the vehicle incorporates shaped hull plates to increase protection against explosion blast, spacing in the add-on armor, and surface coatings to minimize the thermal and radar signatures.

Based on the protection of the Piranha V, the armor of the VCR Dragon provides protection against rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), 14.5mm armor-piercing rounds through 360°, and 30mm armor-piercing rounds across the 30° frontal arc. The hull provides protection against 8kg anti-tank mines.