Friday, December 14, 2018

The Spanish Army’s “Vehicles of Death”

via Defense Aerospace.
Forty soldiers have died in recent years in traffic accidents suffered by the BMR and Lince, two models of Spanish Army armored vehicles that some experts say are not safe because they lack a turret.

On May 18, Soldier Antonio Carrero Jiménez, 27, was killed in a traffic accident while traveling in an armored vehicle of the Spanish Army during a military mission in Mali. Today, it is known that his armored vehicle, the Lince, had not passed the ITV, according to a report that the Guardia Civil has sent to Judge Togado, who is investigating the causes of the accident, and which are published today by the newspaper El País.

The fatal accident suffered by young Carrero is not an isolated case, but the tip of the iceberg of a chain of sinister fatalities pointing to the poor state of the armored vehicles used by the Army in its international missions, Diario16 was told by military sources. At least 40 soldiers have died in similar circumstances in recent years, and all with a common denominator: the victims were traveling in two models of armored vehicles under suspicion, the BMR and the aforementioned Lince. Just between May 18 and June 2, four soldiers were killed in these vehicles, whose operation and safety are under suspicion.

Both vehicles are considered "very dangerous", since they are not fitted with turrets, and so the soldier on watch at the top behind his machine gun is literally "dead" in the event that the car suffers an accident and ends up overturning. In this type of accident, the soldier is usually crushed by the armored vehicle, or leaves the accident with serious injuries, including paraplegia.

Among the Spanish detachments deployed on international missions, these vehicles are known as the "death cars," and although the situation has been denounced repeatedly, the Spanish Government has done nothing to remedy the problem, which necessarily involves the replacement of these obsolete armored vehicles. Army technicians are well aware that BMRs and Linces should not continue in service, but the vehicle renewal plan is not completed, and the lives of the soldiers continue to be at serious risk.

It was the Popular Party Government that first identified the problem and, apparently, hid it for years hid it from the public. The question is why the Ministry of Defense decided not to work with the RG31, a much more modern and better adapted, more reliable model that has a turret. In fact, there are no instances of soldiers being killed with this type of vehicle: when the RG31 suffers an accident, the rear rollover does not crush the soldier thanks to the turret.

However, someone in the Government of Mariano Rajoy gave the order to continue using the BMR and Lince despite the grave risks, something that is reminiscent of the disastrous management that caused the Yak-42 catastrophe.

"They are letting our soldiers die. When I started writing my book, I asked the Ministry of Defense for information because I wanted to know how many of these armored cars are still circulating today. I never received an answer," explains former Army Lieutenant Luis Gonzalo Segura, author of “The Army's Black Book.”
I find this fascinating and tragic.

To label a vehicle dangerous because it lacks a turret seems shortsighted, but I could be missing important parts of this story.

Long short?

Many NATO vehicles lack turrets but aren't considered unsafe because of it.

Is this a training issue?

Could it be that they're being operated in a reckless manner?

Is it something cultural?  Not to be inflammatory but could the Spaniards simply be bad drivers?

Not sure but I hope they fix it soon.

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