- Yes, don’t care how
- Yes, as a researchable vehicle
- Yes, as a premium/event/squadron vehicle
- BeNeLux tree
- French tree
- I said no
Welcome to another suggestion for a Belgian vehicle. This time we’ll be looking at the most powerful vehicle that was entirely built and designed in Belgium, the SIBMAS LCTS 90MP.
The SIBMAS originated in 1975 as a private venture by B N Constructions Ferroviaires et Métalliques. The design was based on an earlier concept conceived by a South African subsidiary of the German company Büssing. This original vehicle was called the Springfield-Büssing Buffel, it would not only lead to the Belgian SIBMAS vehicle but also to the more widely known Ratel APC. The first prototype of SIBMAS was finished in 1976 and underwent extensive trials in Belgium and Malaysia. This prototype was visually slightly different from the final production model that would be adopted by the only export customer, Malaysia. Unlike the later model, the early SIBMAS did not feature a driver’s position with big armored glass windows. Instead, the driver had to look through a much smaller periscope or simply poke his head through the hatch. The second prototype also brought a more powerful engine with it, which gave a nice boost to the mobility of the vehicle. Both versions of the platform had been marketed with a wide variety of turrets to show the vehicle’s flexibility.
After the 1981 order by Malaysia for their variant of the SIBMAS, also known as AFSV-90, the vehicle disappeared into obscurity. No further orders were achieved and marketing of the vehicle stopped. A long silence followed until eventually around 2014 the SIBMAS reappeared. This time mounting a very modern LCTS 90MP turret, which is designed by the Belgian company John Cockerill. It doesn’t appear that this vehicle was actually marketed, but rather served as a trial vehicle for the turret. The chassis itself is most likely owned by John Cockerill, as we’ve seen several of their turrets mounted to a SIBMAS chassis during the original marketing campaign. The turret found on this vehicle is a further development of the LCTS 90 turret that can be found on the Piranha IIIC DF90 that is fielded by the Belgian ground component. Unlike its predecessor, this turret comes with a bustle-mounted autoloader, removing the need for a manual loader. The turret’s main armament is a 90mm Cockerill Mk.8 rifled gun. This weapon is capable of firing a wide variety of ammunition, the options contain the standard options for a modern vehicle like APFSDS, HESH, and smoke rounds, but the turret has also received integration with the Ukrainian Falarick 90 barrel-launched guided missile. This missile has a range of up to 4km and an estimated penetration of no less than 550mm. Besides its main armament, the turret also contains a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun.
The turret systems include all the bells and whistles that one could want from a modern vehicle. Fully stabilized sights for gunner and commander (commander’s sight is a panoramic one on top of that), thermal sights, laser rangefinders for both commander and gunner, and full gun stabilization. The only downside is the very light protection on the turret. By default, it offers only STANAG level 1 protection, this is upgradeable to level 4 with add-on armor, but I’m not sure if that is present on this vehicle.
The chassis does not seem to have been upgraded in any way, so stats from earlier variants apply. The turret is crewed by 2 people, the commander and a gunner, with a third crew member (the driver) completing the minimal occupation. Extra personnel could also be taken in the rear, but it is unclear how much impact the large LCTS 90MP turret has on that. The maximum weight the SIBMAS can carry is around 17-18 tons, and I imagine this variant is quite close to that weight. The vehicle is powered by a MAN Diesel D 2566 MK six-cylinder water-cooled diesel engine which produces 320 hp. This gives the SIBMAS a respectable power-to-weight ratio of around 18hp/t and a top speed of 100km/h. The original SIBMAS was amphibious, being fitted with 2 propellers at the rear which give it a top speed of 11km/h in water. These propellers are still present on the variant we’re currently looking at, so hopefully it still is capable of swimming. Just like its South-African cousin, the SIBMAS is a large vehicle, measuring 7.32m long, 2.5m wide, and around 4m high.
- Mass: 17.5 - 18 ton
- Length: 7.32 m
- Width: 2.5 m
- Height: +/- 4m
- Crew: 3 (commander, driver, gunner)
- Engine: MAN Diesel D 2566 MK six-cylinder water-cooled diesel producing 320 hp at 1,900 rpm
- Power/weight: 18 hp/ton
- Maximum speed: 100 km/h
- 1x 90mm Cockerill Mk.8 cannon with the following ammunition types:
- APFSDS-T with penetration at 2,000 m range: 150 mm RHA @ 60° NATO
- HESH-T with spalling at 1,000 m range: 100 mm RHA @ 60° NATO, plus the destruction of bunkers, concrete, walls, vehicles, and similar
- Falarick 90 guided missile with 4km range and penetration of no less than 550 mm of RHA behind ERA
- 1x coaxial 7.62mm machine gun.
- (proposed) 1x 7.62mm machine gun on commander’s hatch.
- Fully stabilized panoramic commander’s sight with day and night modes (thermals)
- Fully stabilized gunner sight with day and night modes (also thermals)
- Laser rangefinders for both gunner and commander
- Fully stabilized main gun
The SIBMAS LCTS 90MP would likely behave as a severely improved Ratel 90. Using its decent mobility to get ahead of heavy armor from where it can spot enemies, alternatively the mobility can be used to reach a good position from where you can pummel unexpecting enemies. Thanks to the advanced systems in the new turret, this vehicle will be able to fulfill that role exceedingly well. The thermal sights will allow you to easily spot enemy vehicles, and the powerful gun combined with laser rangefinder and autoloader allows you to also confidently engage hostile targets. The ability to also launch missiles from the main gun means that this vehicle will be a real menace at longer ranges. However, not everything is positive, the large size and light armor of the vehicle make you an easy target for enemies, especially those with autocannons. Aircraft will also be a serious threat to you as their guns can penetrate you from most angles, and their bombs and rockets will significantly reduce your lifespan.