Row blows up over prototype

FACTIONS WITHIN the Portuguese military are allegedly furious over the army’s decision to accept orders for an Austrian prototype armoured vehicle which leaks.

Nine Pandur II Wheeled Armoured Vehicles have already been delivered and another 11 are set to arrive in March.

However, the army says that these are minor teething problems and it has every confidence that the problem will be put right under the contract’s three year guarantee.

The armoured vehicle deal involves 240 vehicles at a total cost of 364 million euros to be supplied to the Portuguese army.

According to reports in the Portuguese business newspaper Jornal de Notícias, some sections of the Portuguese military are unhappy with the military’s decision to go ahead with the purchase, provoking fears that the deal could be called off.

The army says it has no alternative to buying the Pandur II given the fact that there are no plans to modernise its existing stock of worn-out Chaimite and M-113s.

Other problems detected so far pertain to the Pandur’s periscopes, headlights and hatches. Rubber seals should stop water leaking in, but the vehicles failed in this respect under test conditions in Portugal as was reported by Sol newspaper.

The problems were detected during training and instruction trials at Santa Margarida military base while carrying personnel from the (Heavy) Cavalry Reconnaissance Practice School.

Interestingly, when trials were carried out by the company that makes the armoured vehicles in Austria, the leaks were not discovered. The Steyer Factory has so far refused to comment, but the Jornal de Notícias newspaper has since discovered that the army had contacted the Austrian manufacturers before the article was published in Sol and promised that the problems would be put right.

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