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Belgian company John Cockerill to deliver BV 206 medical evacuation vehicles to Ukraine.


On June 11, 2024, the Belgian company John Cockerill announced its engagement in adapting and supplying Bandvagn 206 (BV 206) all-terrain vehicles for the Ukrainian army. The project includes significant upgrades to the BV 206s, focusing on engine and interior modifications, to convert them into medical vehicles equipped with medical kits and upgraded engines. This follows the modernization of several M113 vehicles already delivered by the Belgian Ministry of Defense to assist Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.
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John Cockerill Defense will refurbish, modernize and reconfigure these BV 206 all-terrain vehicles, converting them into armored medical evacuation vehicles at John Cockerill's facility in Aubange, Belgium. (Picture source: John Cockerill)


On April 10, 2024, Army Recognition reported that this initiative is part of a broader €412 million military aid package from the Belgian government to support Ukraine with several dozen vehicles. This aid package was approved by the Belgian federal government on March 15, 2024, in cooperation with the Dutch and Luxembourg governments, to provide military assistance to Ukraine. John Cockerill Defense will refurbish, modernize and reconfigure these BV 206 vehicles, converting them into armored medical evacuation vehicles at John Cockerill's facility in Aubange, Belgium. The project aims to equip Ukraine with vehicles capable of performing medical evacuations from the front lines, utilizing the BV 206's reliability and all-terrain capabilities.

The current contract follows John Cockerill Defense's previous project in 2023, which involved upgrading ten M113 armored personnel carriers. This initial batch was part of a planned delivery of 40 armored vehicles, funded by the Benelux countries—Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. In July 2023, these nations announced their collaboration to refurbish decommissioned M113 APCs from a European army and deliver them to Ukraine. These vehicles were equipped with FN weapon stations designed to be armed with either a 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine gun sourced from Belgian army stocks.

Since 2022, Ukraine has received a notable quantity of Bandvagn 206 (BV 206) vehicles from various countries as part of military aid packages. Germany has been a significant contributor, committing to supply a total of 64 BV 206 vehicles to Ukraine. The first shipment included eight of these tracked all-terrain vehicles, with further deliveries planned, although the exact timeline for the complete delivery remains unspecified. In addition to Germany, other countries such as the Netherlands, Italy, and the UK have also provided BV 206 vehicles to Ukraine. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have started using these vehicles, including both the standard BV 206 and the armored BV 206S variant. These contributions were not always publicly announced at the time of delivery but have been confirmed through various reports and sightings in Ukraine.

The BV 206 is a tracked, articulated all-terrain vehicle originally developed by the Swedish company Hägglund & Söner, now part of BAE Systems. Its development started in 1974, and the first production units were delivered to the Swedish Defense Administration in 1980. Designed to handle the challenging conditions of northern Sweden, including snow and boglands, the BV 206 was intended for military use but has found applications in various countries. Over 11,000 units have been produced, and it has been used by the armies of more than 37 nations, including the United States, Canada, and several European countries. The vehicle’s low ground pressure allows it to traverse loose snow and soft terrain effectively, and its amphibious capabilities enable it to cross bodies of water, making it suitable for a wide range of environments.

The BV 206 features a front-mounted engine, with variants powered by different engines over its production history, including a Ford 2.8-liter V6 petrol engine and Mercedes-Benz diesel engines. Its articulated design provides enhanced maneuverability, and its dual-unit configuration can transport up to 17 passengers or a payload of up to 2,250 kilograms. The vehicle can achieve speeds of up to 54.7 km/h on land and 4.7 km/h in water. The BV 206 uses a hydrostatic, articulated steering system for a tight turning radius and is equipped with reinforced nylon tracks. It is suitable for various tasks, including the transportation of personnel and cargo, search and rescue operations, and deployment in extreme environments such as polar regions.


Over 11,000 units have been produced, and the BV 206 has been used by the armies of more than 37 nations, including the United States, Canada, and several European countries. (Picture source: Norwegian MoD)


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