Chaimite saw action during the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990, 20 V-200 Chaimite armored cars were transferred to the Internal Security Forces.
At the first sight of the Portugal’s Bravia Chaimite, you will probably think of the Cadillac Gage Commando family of vehicles. That is understandable because the Bravia Chaimite were originally related to the US M706 program.
Portuguese vehicles were developed in the late 1960s by Bravia-Luso to meet the requirements of the Portuguese armed forces. The original Chaimite was essentially an unlicensed derivative of Cadillac Gage Commando assembled and then manufactured in Portugal, with a number of technical innovations and modifications.
Launched in 1967, a total of over six hundred vehicles were built, they were used primarily by the Portuguese Army during the Portuguese Colonial War, they saw fighting in the many conflicts to this day and many are still in use.
Today, it is remembered as a symbol of the Carnation Revolution in April 1974, which destroyed the regime of Salazar which lasted nearly 40 years.
The Chaimite has a total of 10 variants, identified in order from V-200 to V-1000. The variants were developed for use primarily in reconnaissance and APC roles, while the remaining variants were used for specialized roles. The basic APC is called the V-200.
The design of the vehicle was heavily influenced by CGC M706, this is a simple vehicle with four large road wheels installed on each corner of the hull. The Chaimite’s hull is made of welded steel with an armor capable of defeating 7.62 mm NATO ammunition.
The driver sits in front of the vehicle with the second crew member, normally the commander, to his right. Over their positions is a two-piece hatch cover that opens either side of the vehicle. The driver and commander each have a vision block to their front, between which is a single firing port.
To the left of the driver and the right of the commander is a vision block and firing port. There is a two-part door in each side of the hull, the upper part opening to the rear and the lower part folding downwards to form a step. There are two vision blocks and two firing ports in each side of the hull between the front of the vehicle and the side door.
Although the appearance of this vehicle has a clear resemblance to the CGC M706, both designs also have significant differences, starting with the longer rear engine compartment, ending in a downwards slope. On the hull, there are three windows, not two, one of which can be folded up and down. The vehicle weighs from 6.8 tons to 8.5 tons, depending on the version. The length is 5.6m, the width is 2.26m and the height is 2.39m. The power of the vehicle is provided by a single engine.
Initially Bravia Chaimite V-200 was equipped with a Chrysler petrol engine, however in the 1980s, these APCs were equipped with Cummins diesel engine, developing 155 horsepower.
The Chaimite can reach a maximum speed of 99 km/h, the operating range of 804 km.
The main armament is installed immediately behind the driver’s and commander’s position. Armament carried depends on the variant, however this APC is typically armed with a roof-mounted 12.7 mm heavy machine gun. Another version, armed with turret-mounted twin 7.62 mm machine guns is also common.
The V-200 has a 11 men capacity. There are numerous firing ports provided for the troops. Occupants enter and leave the vehicle via side- or rear doors or roof hatches. If required, the turret can be fitted with a device for launching five 60 mm anti-personnel, anti-tank, smoke, illuminating or incendiary grenades.
The turret can also be fitted with four 3.5 in rocket launchers either side of the turret, which can be fired from inside the vehicle but are reloaded from outside. A wide range of optional equipment can be fitted, including an air conditioning system, a fire extinguishing system and an explosion suppression system.
Chaimite was once exported to Libya, the Libyan government ordered 60 in 1976. However, the order was canceled after news of the Portuguese government’s decision that same year to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. Only part of the order has been completed with about 13 or 16 units delivered.
Twenty V-200 Chaimite armored cars were acquired in 1973 by the government of the Philippines for its Philippine Army units fighting the Muslim separatist guerrillas in Mindanao during the Moro conflict, but only 13 were actually delivered before the order was cancelled by the Philippine authorities.
Chaimite also saw action during the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990, 20 V-200 Chaimite armored cars were transferred to the Internal Security Forces. During the Battle of the Hotels in October 1975, the Internal Security Force used their own V-200 armored cars alongside loaned M113 and Panhard M3 VTT armored personnel carriers by the Lebanese Army in a successful operation to evacuate more than 200 people – including the staff and residents, most of them tourists – trapped in the Holiday Inn and adjoining hotels located at the Minet el-Hosn hotel district of downtown Beirut.
The Lebanese Internal Security Force Command was so impressed by the performance in the field of its V-200 Chaimite armored cars – notably, the Lebanese crews praised the ability of their vehicles armored hull to withstand in an Urban combat environment small-arms fire, landmine blasts and even RPG-7 anti-tanks rounds.
Peru was the first foreign costumer of the Chaimite, purchasing in 1970 twenty V-200 armored cars for its Marine corps. The Chaimite was gradually phased out of Portuguese Army service since 2008 and replaced by the Austrian Pandur II 8×8 APC, though the last operational Chaimite armored cars were only retired in 2016.
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