Vehicle Profile: V-200 Chaimite

The V-200 Chaimite is an armoured personnel carrier (APC) built by the Portuguese company Bravia, based on the US made Cadillac Cage V-100 Commando. Following the refusal by the US government to provide armoured vehicles to the Portuguese Army in the sixties, Portugal began to develop its own APC in 1964 and delivered to the Portuguese Army in 1967. More than 600 of these APC were built.

The armoured steel hull of the Chaimite provides protection from small arms fire up to 7.62 mm NATO ammunition. In the basic version, this APC has an 11-man capacity, the crew consisting of 3 members. The driver sits towards the front of the vehicle with the second crew member, the commander, to his right. They are covered by a two-piece hatch that opens on the either side of the vehicle. Access is either by one of two doors (divided into two parts) positioned on each side of the vehicle or by one door on the rear.

The V-200 is equipped with a one-person designed turret built by Bravia : this turret has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear. The armament depends on the variant: either two 7.62 mm machine guns, or two 5.56 mm machine guns or one 7.62 mm (0.30) and one .50 (12.7 mm) machine gun. This last option is the one used by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces.(ISF, Internal Security Forces, the Lebanese “gendarmerie”).

According the SIRPI (1), 30 V-200 Chaimite were delivered to Lebanon in 1973. Without clear photographic evidence, these vehicles were more probably delivered in the late 1970s or in 1980 (2). Obviously, at those dates, it was becoming urgent for the ISF to replace the armoured vehicles lost during the first battles of the war, as the Staghound armoured cars were captured and used in substantial numbers by the various militias. The Lebanese Chaimite served with the Force 16, the emergency unit of the ISF and was painted in a light bluish gray colour. They have been seen in action several times during the war, sometimes filmed by the press cameras of the world, like during the escort of the Lebanese Forces militia fighters leaving Zahle besieged by the Syrians in 1981.

More recently, as part of a security and assistance program launched in 2006 (3), 21 Chaimite have been refurbished by the United States. Originally powered by a petrol engine, these APCs were refitted with Mercedes diesels engine (4). The Lebanese V-200 are now operating within the special unit of the I.S.F., the Leopards (Al-Fohood) and the Rapid Intervention Regiment. They have been seen during the raids in Tripoli in May 2007, against buildings housing some militants of the Islamist group Fatah al-Islam.

(1) http://armstrade.sipri.org

(2) http://www.operacional.pt/chaimite-v-200-parte-i/

(3) http://lebanon.usembassy.gov

(4) Assaut number 43 : Alexandre Leblond, les forces spéciales libanaises, août 2009

Author: Mathieu Morant

Chaimite during the Lebanese Civil War:

A V-200 Chaimite used by the Guardians of the Cedars militia during the war of Zahleh in 1981, in Houche-el-Oumara (Thanks to S. Kassis for the info)

Chaimite in use with the Lebanese Internal Security Forces:

A Chaimite of the Fohood
Another Chaimite of the Fohood in Beirut
Same vehicle from another angle
A Chaimite of the Rapid Intervention Regiment in Sidon
A Chaimite of the Rapid Intervention Regiment in Tripoli
Same Vehicle, different angle
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