Upgrade of €31 million renders armoured Belgian military vehicles 'completely unusable'

Upgrade of €31 million renders armoured Belgian military vehicles 'completely unusable'
Credit: Defensie

After they have received an upgrade, 44 of the army's armoured vehicles are no longer safe to be used, according to the Ministry of Defence's internal documents.

The vehicles are of the Pandur type, which are used as command vehicles, medical vehicles or reconnaissance units. They are over 20 years old and have just received a so-called Midlife Update (MLU), which cost over €31 million, carried out by the Swiss manufacturer, reports De Morgen.

The Pandurs received, among other things, new armouring, air conditioning and a second raised floor plate with dampers. The update was necessary to keep the vehicles safe, according to the Ministry of Defence.

However, military personnel that have tested the upgraded vehicles are not satisfied with the modifications and called them "completely unusable". "Anyone taller than 1.70 m cannot get in or out, and the driver cannot even reach the pedals," the report, that VRT was able to view, said. Additionally, the upgrade prevents soldiers from being able to brake or steer without danger.

The test group consider "all Pandurs that received the Midlife Update non-operational and non-roadworthy for safety reasons".

Additionally, the steering and brakes are not working properly and because of the extra armour and equipment that was fitted, the crew can barely get into the vehicle. The vehicles were marked as "very high risk (in use)" and of "very high hindrance".

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

Update: The Department of Defence has clarified in a press conference that only 7 of the 44 vehicles have been modernised, which cost €1.7 million, so far. The €31 million for all vehicles will not be paid before all problems have been solved.

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