In Belgium, a tank debacle is making headlines – a Swiss company is also to blame: after the renovation and upgrade of 44 armored vehicles ordered by the Belgian army, only small soldiers can fit into the vehicles.
The armored vehicles are now too narrow for members of the army over 1.70 meters, like research on the public television and radio station VRT have resulted. In addition, the vehicles can no longer brake and navigate properly. Belgian politicians speak of a “fiasco”. The army had punched millions.
The Belgian army has invested around 30 million euros in tank renovation. The goal was to get the Pandur combat vehicles, which were already getting on in years, ready to be used for the UN mission in Mali, West Africa. In addition to a fundamental all-round renewal, they should also receive reinforced armor and a new air conditioning system.
Millions of orders went to Ruag
For a substantial part of the upgrade, it was noisy “CH Media” the Ruag Defense in charge. The spokesman for the federal government received the order to reinforce the mine armor and occupant protection, confirms company spokeswoman Kirsten Hammerich. The order volume amounts to a single-digit million amount.
These are the changes that are now causing problems. With the new armor, the companions have become too heavy – and there is hardly any space inside.
Problems with suppliers
Ruag admits that there have been delays and qualitative complaints. It is not true that the tanks were renovated. “The accusation has no basis,” says spokeswoman Hammerich. “The modification fully met customer requirements and the prototypes were accepted by the customer without any complaints.” The Belgians were also always informed.
Apparently there were problems with a Belgian supplier who had carried out the work. Hammerich has been solving the “problems” for a long time. According to a Belgian newspaper, the company was sloppy during assembly.
The Belgian Ministry of Defense is trying to talk the problems down. Work on the tanks has not yet been completed, it emphasizes. For example, an even more powerful engine is to be installed, which should alleviate the braking and navigation problems, writes «CH Media».
As far as the limited space is concerned, not much is likely to change. Defense Minister Philippe Goffin said that the vehicle was not made for everyone. After all, there are other vehicles in the army that would require a “specific stature of the soldiers”.
Mowag not involved
Belgian media also reported that the Swiss company Mowag was also involved in the renovation of the Belgian tanks. That is wrong, spokesman Pascal Kopp told BLICK. “We have nothing to do with the ‘renovation’ of Pandur vehicles.” (Lha)