The first production units of the Spanish Army’s new Dragon 8×8 wheeled combat vehicles (VCR) have been completed and will be ready to start trials in the coming weeks.
The Spanish defense ministry revealed this as it announced that the program to field a next-generation of combat vehicles had completed the system design phase, obtaining critical design review (CDR) approval in late July.
The main objective of the CDR is to demonstrate that the design of the vehicle in its infantry fighting vehicles (VCI) and sapper (VCZ) variants is mature enough to start the manufacturing and testing process.
“Overcoming this technical milestone is of vital importance for the proper progress of the program, as it marks the end of the vehicle design stage after several years of work and allows the vehicle to qualify for testing to begin,” the Spanish defense ministry said.
Tess Defence, the consortium comprising Indra Sistemas S.A., GDELS Santa Bárbara Sistemas S.A., Sapa Placencia S.L. and Escribano Mechanical & Engineering S.L., is poised to deliver a total of seven Dragon combat vehicles in the sapper variant for testing this year.
The consortium is currently on contract to deliver 348 of the 8×8 vehicles, but the program is expected to grow to a total of approximately 1,000 vehicles. The 348 units on order are scheduled for delivery by 2027.
Of the total of 348 currently on order, 240 will be built in a so-called complete configuration and the remaining 108 in a “simple” configuration. All are based on the GDELS Piranha V design, with significant modifications that will result in the vehicle featuring over 60 percent of local content.
Various variants of the vehicles are expected to be fitted with different remote weapon stations, such as the Leonardo’s Hitfist 30mm turret, or Escribano’s Guardian 30mm cannons. A number of the systems are expected to field Spike LR missile launchers.
According to the defense ministry, the 348 Dragons will include 219 infantry fighting vehicles, 58 reconnaissance vehicles, 49 sappers combat vehicles, and 14 command post vehicles.
Spain is procuring the Dragón VCR to replace the Pegaso 3560 BMR armored personnel carriers and Pegaso VEC-M1 reconnaissance vehicles that have been in service since the 1970s and 1980s, respectively.
The vehicles will be built at the General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) factory in Trubia, where a ceremony to mark the official start of construction of the vehicles was held in December last year.