Brazilian Armored 4x4s: New Crime-fighting Technology

These vehicles offer speed, ballistic protection, and shockwave resistance.
Roberto Caiafa/Diálogo | 27 February 2017

Capacity Building

The LMV on the testing grounds in Sete Lagoas in the state of Minas Gerais, showing agility during steep climbs. Among its other modifications, the vehicle was fitted with a set of teargas grenade launchers atop the armored windshield. (Photo: Roberto Caiafa)

The Brazilian defense industry is developing at least three modern armored vehicles – the LMV (Light Multirole Vehicle), the Guará 4WS, and the Gladiator II – which are being designed and manufactured to conduct missions in conditions ranging from urban to the wilderness, from highways and back roads to dirt.

The Guará 4WS was officially presented at LAAD 2016 and should be ready for production by mid-2017. (Photo: Roberto Caiafa)

The rising violence in Brazil’s big cities has made these vehicles practically indispensable in situations of urban unrest. Used as collective protection equipment, the vehicles can act as force multipliers in the most vulnerable parts of Brazil’s land borders. With the increased firepower that gangs and armed factions now wield, which includes the use of heavy machine guns mounted on trucks and SUVs to commit transnational border crimes and attacks on banks, overhauling the equipment available to Brazil’s security forces became essential.

“For members of the Armed Forces, the acquisition of modern armored vehicles with expeditionary capabilities and a high degree of reliability in use was already a longstanding request, and it was seen as quite necessary, especially for our professional rapid-deployment soldiers,” noted Major General Guido Amin Naves, head of the Project Planning Bureau of the Brazilian Army.

“Past practice in the security forces, especially in the city of Rio de Janiero, consisted of adapting vehicles, such as armored cars, that are used for delivering valuables and using them to make incursions in conflict areas controlled by militias and drug-trafficking gangs,” said Paulo Roberto Bastos, an engineer specialized in armored vehicles. “These modified vehicles lack solid mechanical and ballistic resilience and are incapable of being used on the steep terrain of Rio’s neighborhoods and favelas. Clearly, these are improvised solutions that are still being used. The lack of a decent Brazilian product led to purchasing foreign-made vehicles to meet the requirements of our international events, such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.”

Iveco’s LMV, model M65E19WM, may reach a target of 186 units manufactured in Brazil, 36 of which have been reserved for the Brazilian Army. Iveco’s LMV is a four-by-four vehicle with a maximum weight of eight tons, a one-ton cargo capacity, and room for a five-person crew. This vehicle meets the standards for armored vehicles, as well as the combat specifications for crew survivability. It can operate on different kinds of terrain and can be used on police missions, international peacekeeping operations, or as a light multifunctional military vehicle.

The system for protecting the soldiers on board is based on a hull for the crew, with the rest of the vehicle configured around that central feature. Thus, the shockwave from an explosion dissipates before it is able to critically injure the crew. The fuel tank is sealed with anti-explosive foam and the fuel cap is located as far from the doors as possible, reducing the risk of combustion in the event of a fire.

Interior views of the Gladiator II. This vehicle has Spall-Liner protection and plenty of room for five crew members, with anti-crash seats that are able to withstand explosions. (Photo: Roberto Caiafa)

This vehicle uses modular armor kits and can be fitted with a protective shield to resist anti-tank mines. The seats are not connected directly to the floor, which allows for greater survivability than in conventional trucks and light utility vehicles. The company in charge of manufacturing the LMV has a large factory that is also used for making trucks, light utility vehicles, and farming equipment. Such large-scale production ensures a high level of domestically manufactured components through a wide network of Brazilian suppliers.

The Guará 4WS is geared towards tactical use during special operations by security forces in urban areas. It is used to fight drug trafficking, assaults on banks and armored cars, and in countering gangs that operate in rural areas. “The Guará 4WS has a high number of Brazilian-made components, making it easy to do any type of aftermarket product development,” said Marcos Agmar de Lima e Souza, the manager of business development for the company that manufactures this vehicle. “The structural calculation is ours, helping us to avoid any dependency on outsiders. This results in a lower acquisition cost and greater after-sale efficiency since we fully control any part, component, or frame on this armored vehicle.”

As for the concept of rear-axis steering, Agmar explained that they are pioneers in this class of vehicle used for police work. “This kind of system was already in use by heavier six-by-six vehicles for military purposes. We are still testing this armored vehicle, but we have already confirmed that the steering radius and the vehicle’s turning radius can be widened beyond their current six meters. This armored vehicle employs independent suspension in all four wheels. The point is to make maximum use of the standard parts for the Astros family of vehicles – parts that have been widely tested and certified. This lowers the costs quite a bit, and soldiers who are familiar with this kind of equipment will find it very easy to adapt to this new vehicle. Certification by the Brazilian Army is expected by mid-2017.”

The Gladiator II is the latest vehicle to be shown. The Gladiator II project uses a diesel engine with a six-speed automatic transmission and can reach a maximum speed of about 62 mph on paved roads. It offers a broad range of ballistic protection and advanced hardware. “The factory will need to start production in the second half of 2017,” said Jairo Cândido, president of the company that manufactures the vehicle. “Initially intended for military use, the project shows flexibility for reconfiguring the vehicle so that it can fulfill missions as varied as reconnaissance and electronic warfare, or serving as a forward observation post, command post, or office, or being used as a mortar, radar, or ambulance. This armored vehicle has a ballistics rating of NATO STANAG 4569 Level 2 and floorboard protection rating of NATO STANAG Level 2-A,” he explained in detail.

“The Gladiator II meets the Brazilian Army’s requirements, and it was designed and built entirely in Brazil. It uses armor that was developed through research by Brazilian scientists and technicians, and it can be easily modified into different versions meant for the security forces, civil defense, or federal agencies,” Cândido concluded.

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