A fleet of Chinese made VN-1 armored personnel carriers (the export version of its ZBL-08) acquired by Gabon last year has failed to live up to expectations.
Gabon which deployed it’s troops for the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), is struggling to keep its armored vehicles in operation due to persistent mechanical issues attributed to the VN1’s locomotion system.
The entire locomotion system would need costly and time consuming replacement process, requiring the shipping of parts from China, and outfitting them in camps in Bangui.
These tedious process has significantly hampered Gabonese MINUSCA contingent in the first six months of 2020.
To sustain its peacekeeping operations, Gabon first ordered 12 Aravis armored vehicles from French Better in 2014, however, only eight of these vehicles were eventually acquired, and they were handed over to the Republican Guard, which used some of them to quell the coup attempt of 7 January, 2019. None of the vehicles were deployed to CAR.
Subsequently, several armored vehicles manufacturers approached Gabon to equip it’s MINUSCA contingent, including France’s Arquus (formerly Renault Trucks Defense) but China’s North Industries Corp (Norinco) won the order for five of its VN1 armoured personnel carriers in mid-2009.
These five VN-1 armored vehicles fitted with a two-man turret armed with one 30mm cannon and one 7.62mm coaxial machine gun were on display during Gabon’s Independence Day parade held in August 2019 and were later sent to CAR early this year.
During the parade, several Panhard VBL light-armored vehicles, Arquus Bastion armored personnel carriers, and a pair of Nexter Aravis APCs from the Armoured Intervention Group’s Support and Combat Squadron also featured in the parade.
Gabon which has repeatedly deployed it’s 500-strong French-trained peacekeepers to CAR for 21 years, requires it’s armored contingent to be in top shape.