As part of the Philippines’ military modernization, IVECO Latin America’s first batch of Guarani 6×6 armored personnel carriers (APVVs) is currently en route from Brazil to the Philippines. The first five vehicles were spotted at the port of Santos in Brazil, boarding a commercial cargo ship bound for the Philippines, with arrival scheduled for mid-December 2023. Delivery of the remainder of the fleet is scheduled for late 2024.
This delivery marks a key moment in defense relations between Brazil and the Philippines. The Guarani vehicles are part of a substantial contract, valued at approximately $46 million, signed with Israeli company Elbit Systems on February 7, 2021.
Indeed, after its victory in the call for tenders for the supply of light tanks to the Philippine army, Elbit Systems also won this contract for the supply of 28 Guarani armored personnel carriers, currently in service in the Brazilian army. Some of these vehicles will be equipped with the UTB-30 remotely operated turret produced by Elbit Systems. Following negotiations with the Bolzano company, the production of vehicles intended for the Philippines was entrusted to the Iveco Veicular factory in Defesa de Sete Lagoas, which then had in stock around a hundred Guarani vehicles already assembled and waiting. of equipment. This strategy would have been adopted in order to allow Elbit Systems to offer the Italian-Brazilian armored vehicle at a particularly attractive price.
The expedition follows months of negotiations and a significant diplomatic breakthrough. According to Tecnodefensa, on September 27, 2023, Germany likely lifted its embargo on six components essential to the production of Guarani. These components, including ballistic steel, mine protection plates, periscopes, CV half-shafts, transmission systems, and cooling fans, are now permitted for export to the Philippines, overcoming an obstacle that had previously delayed the shipment.
Philippine versions of Guarani vehicles differ significantly from their Brazilian counterparts. These differences include adding ballistic armor plates to achieve protection level 3 according to STANAG 4569. They are also equipped with a combat management system (-X TM) and software-defined radio ( E-LynX TM), both supplied by Elbit Systems. Additionally, these vehicles are equipped with a Remotely Operated Weapon System (RCWS) developed by Elbit, designed to meet the specific requirements of the Philippine Army. This RCWS is armed with either a 12.7×99mm machine gun (.50 BMG) or a 7.62×51mm machine gun. This variant also includes an 18-ton capacity hydraulic winch installed at the rear of the vehicle.
The VBTP-MR Guarani (in Portuguese: “Viatura Blindada Transporte de Pessoal – Média de Rodas”, meaning “Armored Personnel Carrier Vehicle – Medium Wheeled Type”) is a 6 × 6 armored personnel carrier developed by Iveco and The Brazilian Army as part of its “Urutu-III” modernization program aimed to replace all EE-11 Urutu by 2015. The 8×8 version of the VBTP-MR is the basis for the Superav armored personnel carrier of Iveco. Other Brazilian companies also participated in the program, such as IMBEL (communications), Elbit (armament), and Usiminas and Villares (development of national ballistic steel structures).
The VBTP-MR Guarani is powered by Iveco’s Cursor 9 turbocharged diesel engine, developing 383 hp and mated to an automatic transmission. The vehicle is equipped with hydropneumatic suspension. Modular side floats can be added for improved flotation. The basic APC can be airlifted by C-130 Hercules. The vehicle has a crew of 2 and is designed to transport 9 soldiers.