Gabon’s Republican Guard (GR) presented VN1 8×8 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), manufactured by Chinese company Norinco, for the first time during the country’s Independence Day military parade.
The IFVs are part of the Scouting, Reconnaissance, and Combat Squadron of the GR’s Armoured Intervention Group, according to a commentator for the television coverage of the event on 17 August.
Five VN1’s appeared in the parade and were not painted in the GR’s standard camouflage, and according to Janes, this could suggest that the VN1s were delivered recently.
The VN1 model seen in the parade is an export variant based on the ZBL-08 (Type 08) IFV that is fully amphibious, weighing 21 tonnes. It has a two-man turret equipped with a 30 millimetre main gun and a 7.62 millimetre coaxial machine-gun. It is capable of carrying seven soldiers in addition to three crew members. The modular armoured vehicle is used for infantry fire support, battlefield logistics and quick reaction operations. Known operators of the IFV are the Bolivarian Marine Infantry in Venezuela and Thailand, with Gabon being the first in Africa.
Two Dongfeng EQ2050 vehicles equipped with multiple antennas and cameras were also in the parade. The vehicles are designed for tactical ground-to-ground and air-to-ground communications, with high frequency VHF and UHF capabilities. Multiple French-made Panhard VBL light-armoured vehicles, Arquus Bastion armoured personnel carriers and two Nexter Aravis armoured personnel carriers (APCs) from the Armoured Intervention Group’s Support and Combat Squadron also featured in the parade.
Over the past decade, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Gabon took delivery of eight Aravis IFVs from French company Nexter between 2015 and 2016 and 24 Matador APCs from South African company Paramount in 2010.
Gabon’s armoured fighting vehicle fleet currently consists of 24 Matador APCs, seven Panhard M3 APCs, 15 Berliet VXB-170 APCS, 15 US-made Cadillac Gage Commando APCs, 16 Panhard AML-90 armoured cars, 12 EE-3 Jararaca scout vehicles, 14 French-made VéhiculeBlindé Léger scout vehicles and eight Panhard AML 60, four South African made Eland 90, four Eland 60, 14 Brazilian-made EE-9 Cascavel, nine French-made ERC-90 Sagaie, and four ERC-20 Kriss armoured cars.