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Emergency vehicle: Versailles-Satory - Gendarmerie Nationale - SW - 33

Protected special wagon (Véhicule blindé à roues de la Gendarmerie - VBRG) of the Gendarmerie Nationale, stationed at the Groupement Blindé de Gendarmerie Mobile in Versailles-Satory in the Yvelines department (78).

Chassis: Berliet
Model: VXB 170
Construction year: 1974
Expansion: Berliet

The all-wheel-drive, armored vehicle is primarily used to maintain public order during high-risk demonstrations and violent riots. The version with a clearing blade is used in particular for clearing barricades.

The French name “Véhicule blindé à roues de la Gendarmerie”, or VBRG for short, means nothing more than “Armored wheeled vehicle of the gendarmerie”. The vehicles can overcome gradients of up to 60% and are buoyant. However, an optional hydrojet drive was not ordered by any customer.


At the end of the 1960s, Berliet developed an armored wheeled vehicle under the name VXB 170, making maximum use of existing truck components. The number 170 stands for the engine power in hp. In 1972 the French gendarmerie decided to procure 155 copies of this type of vehicle. Production at the Bourg-en-Bresse plant began and the first vehicles were delivered in 1974. In the same year the Berliet brand was sold to Renault.

As a result, the French army ordered the Saviem wheeled armored vehicle VAB instead of the VXB 170 from Berliet. Since the latter had little success in export either, production was discontinued after all gendarmerie models had been delivered after a total of 179 copies had been produced.


The armored car VXB 170 was produced for the gendarmerie as VBRG in 4 different versions. In addition to the “basic” VBRG, there are versions with a clearing blade, with a front cable winch and a command version with enhanced radio equipment and loudspeakers.

The standard equipment includes:

  • Full steel armor (floor 6mm, sides / roof 8mm)
  • Gun turret with seat and 7.62 mm AANF1 machine gun, optional 56 mm Cougar grenade launcher or tear gas launcher
  • Driver's seat + command seat in front
  • Double bench + 4 single seats in the back for 6-8 gendarmes
  • Grating of the panes and lighting elements
  • mountable armor plates for front and side windows
  • 3 roof periscopes for use in combat operations
  • Entrances on both sides and behind

Technical specifications:

  • Engine: Berliet V800, 8 cylinder, diesel
  • Power: 125 kW / 170 PS
  • Displacement: 6,920 cc
  • Transmission: 6 forward gears and 1 reverse gear, reduction
  • Road speed: 85 km / h
  • Range: 750 km
  • Empty weight without crew + fuel: 10,700 kg
  • Maximum weight allowed: 12,700 kg (version with dozer blade)


Of the 155 vehicles initially procured by the French gendarmerie, 84 were still in service in 2020. As of 2020, 32 units are stationed at the 'Groupement blindé de gendarmerie mobile' in Versailles-Satory, 3 in Corsica and 37 machines in the French overseas territories (Départements et territoires d'Outre-mer). The national gendarmerie training center in Saint-Astier in the Dordogne has 11 vehicles as of 2020. Another vehicle is used by the anti-terrorist unit GIGN.

Modernization / replacement:

In 2007 the replacement of the VBRG was put out to tender, but stopped in 2008 for budgetary reasons. In 2019, one example was extensively modernized on a test basis by Turgis et Gaillard Industrie. Among other things, a more powerful Iveco engine with 240 hp, air conditioning and additional armor were installed.

In December 2020, the gendarmerie finally put out tenders for the delivery and maintenance of 90 armored wheeled vehicles for security operations, which are to be delivered by 2026. Possible applicants include the SERVAL model from Nexter and the Sherpa Light model from the Renault Group manufacturer Arquus. However, a parallel modernization of part of the existing VBRG fleet to reduce costs is not ruled out.

Gendarmerie Mobile:

The Gendarmerie Mobile is comparable to the German federal riot police. It is a separate subdivision within the Gendarmerie Nationale and specializes primarily in maintaining public order. In addition to this task, the Gendarmerie Mobile supports the other authorities in protecting public buildings and places in their day-to-day business.

The Gendarmerie Mobile is divided into so-called "Escadrons"Each of which corresponds to a hundred. An escadron usually consists of 110 men equipped with a command car of one hundred and ten group cars. The Gendarmerie Mobile counts 110 escadrons with 17,000 emergency services spread across 96 locations throughout France, including one armored unit in Versailles-Satory .

The National Gendarmerie:

The Gendarmerie Nationale is the second major police body in France, alongside the Police Nationale. Due to its military history, it is the only police agency in France that is subordinate to the Ministry of Defense. Since the Gendarmerie Nationale was reorganized in 2009, however, it is now also subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior.

The tasks of the two bodies are clearly defined. While the Police Nationale is mainly to be found in the urban cities, the Gendarmerie Nationale mainly occupies the rural part of France and the suburbs. In the French capital and some larger cities, however, the Gendarmerie Nationale is also responsible for protecting the population. Today the Gendarmerie Nationale has more than 105,000 employees on 95% of French territory.


Véhicule Blindé à Roues de la Gendarmerie (VBRG), basé au Groupement Blindé de Gendarmerie Mobile à Versailles-Satory sur base d'un Berliet VXB 170.