Presentation of BL12 at Satory

In 1967 at Satory, Berliet presented a prototype wheeled armoured vehicle for personnel transport during law-enforcement operations against urban guerillas: the BL12.

The Chief of Staff for the Army bought one for tests, but selected the SAVIEM VAB (forward armoured vehicle). In response to the Gendarmerie's invitation to tender, Berliet improved the design to meet these needs.

A Berliet VXB 170 on display

This amphibious armoured vehicle with a Berliet V8 170 hp engine has a top speed of 80 km/h, can cover inclines of 60% and transverse cambers of 30%.

The body shape was specially designed to prevent hangers-on. There are several variants: command, winch, blade ... The Gendarmerie preferred this to the M3 presented by Panhard and ordered 155 examples instead of the 400 originally planned. Renamed the Gendarmerie Wheeled Armoured Vehicle (VBRG), it entered service in 1974 in its characteristic blue livery. Over 40 years later, it is still sometimes used. Some examples were purchased by Gabon, Senegal and Tunisia. But when Berliet became part of Renault-Saviem, the programme was dropped in favour of the VAB.


Book : Pierre Touzin, les véhicules blindés français (French armoured vehicles), 1945-1977, EPA, 1978.

Video : a Berliet VXB in action,