When Special Ops units are running a Black Op someplace no one expects them to be, like on the sovereign soil of a nation they aren’t officially at war with, one thing they really need is a reliable vehicle that doesn’t attach them to their homeland. There are three ways to go about this. First is to use something ubiqitous, something sold to dozens of nations, which cannot be reliably traced back to any one country. Second is to use something obsolete, most likely an Allied surplus vehicle that was left over at the end of World War II. Tens of thousands of these vehicles are still on active duty in various parts of the world, even now, some 60 years after the war ended. The third thing they can do is buy something new, something modern off the commercial sales shelf of one of the hundreds of manufacturers servicing the international arms market, something that anyone, anywhere could have purchased with the right amount of money.
The Renault VBL (Véhicule Blindé Léger) is one such vehicle. Designed in the early 1980’s, it was the runner up in a competition to supply the French Army with a new light armored reconnaissance vehicle that could also fill the role of tank hunter. The Renault is bulletproof against 7.62mm ammunition, light enough to be slung cargo for a Puma 330 BA, CH-47, or CH-53, benefits from Renault’s long time experience with 4WD systems, and most importantly, it floats. In other words, the only reason it can’t go somewhere is it might be too big for some places.
While only capable of supporting a crew of three (spec ops don’t want too many eggs in one basket anyway), the vehicle can be outfitted with a tow package, winches, high angle anti-aircraft ring mounts, gasoline or diesel engine, and even a propeller drive system to enhance its waterbourne performance.