Spain receives new batch of Castor combat vehicles from GDELS

Spain receives new batch of Castor combat vehicles from GDELS

General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) Santa Bárbara Sistemas announced, on 8 March 2024, that it had completed the delivery of four ASCOD “Castor” Armored Combat Vehicles to the Spanish Army. This delivery is a significant milestone in the second phase of the Pizarro program, aimed at equipping Spanish army engineering units with cutting-edge vehicles for a wide range of operations and missions.

The official handover of these advanced armored vehicles, equipped with bulldozer blades, took place at the GDELS Santa Bárbara Sistemas factory in Alcalá de Guadaíra, Seville, on March 5. The event was attended by representatives from the Spanish Ministry of Defense’s Pizarro Program Office and the Armored Systems Park and Maintenance Center (PCMASA) number 1. After the handover, the “Castor” vehicles were transferred to PCMASA and then deployed to Zaragoza, Burgos, and Madrid for operational use.

Based on the ASCOD 2 Pizarro platform, the Castor is an armored engineering vehicle (AEV) designed to perform a variety of essential tasks on the battlefield, such as terrain leveling, trench filling, and obstacle removal. Its versatility extends to river-crossing operations, for which it can be equipped with a bulldozer blade, plow, roller, breach marking system, and a heavy mine-clearing hose launcher system known as MICLIC (M-58). This range of equipment makes it particularly useful in various operational contexts, providing vital support to moving units.

The Castor shares its powertrain with the Pizarro Phase II, which includes an MTU 8V 199 TE20 engine of 720 horsepower and a SAPA SG850 binary logic transmission. This common technical foundation facilitates maintenance and interoperability with other vehicles in the Pizarro program, while also laying the groundwork for the further development of the Pizarro Phase III.

Weighing between 31 and 35 tons, the Castor can carry up to 13 tons of mission equipment, armor, and weaponry, making it suitable for a wide range of military operations. It is also equipped with all-weather target acquisition systems, which can be operated from inside the vehicle. These systems, including a thermal camera, allow for accurate firing while the vehicle is in motion, thus ensuring offensive and defensive capabilities while carrying out its engineering missions.

As part of the agreement with the Spanish Ministry of Defense, GDELS Santa Bárbara Sistemas is committed to delivering a total of 36 “Castor” vehicles. This number includes one prototype and 35 production models, each accompanied by a bulldozer blade. The delivery process began in December 2023, with six vehicles initially handed over. With the most recent delivery, a total of ten vehicles, including the prototype, have been delivered to date. The delivery schedule continues, intending to complete the delivery of all remaining vehicles throughout 2024.

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