The current model is the newest iteration in a long line of Norman vehicles bearing the designation "VTT", stretching back to the 1950s. It is a fully modern vehicle dating to the early 1990s which has received a number of modifications to keep it in service.
The Panhard-Chrysler VTT is quite large and heavy for its intended roll, but well protected and more than capable of matching its lighter Russian competitors in agility. This is because of its unique drive system, which is an 8x8 arrangement with large, broad run-flat tires each using an independent hydropneumatic suspension module. The power-train consists of two Chrysler V8 diesels rated for 580 hp each, one to drive each side of the vehicle. These engines are located in the middle of the vehicle in a sealed compartment, between the driver's compartment and the transport cabin. This has the advantage of making the VTT extremely maneuverable and balances its weight, while allowing it to turn in place by reversing the motions of its wheels in the manner of a tracked vehicle. However, it means that travel between the two halves of the APC can only be done externally or through a narrow crawl space and, understandably, this mid-section makes a rather tempting target for enenmy anti-armor weapons. Exhaust is vented through two large ducts beneath the engine compartment, oriented to project out the sides of the chassis underbelly, but can be redirected to flow down over the wheels in order to de-ice them.
The VTT's principle armaments are housed in a forward-center turret operated by the vehicle's commander. It houses a 25mm revolver cannon developed specifically for the vehicle which uses the same Advanced Primer Ignition blowback mechanism as the FAMAS XIV, a coaxial 7.5mm general-purpose machine gun mounted directly over the main weapon and an independently-articulating 40mm grenade launcher atop the turret. Brackets to mount anti-tank missile pods are also fitted to either side of the turret. In addition, the VTT carries a 12.7mm / .50-calibre heavy machine gun in a hatch / cupola located toward the rear, atop the transport compartment, which is intended for operation by the VTT's crew chief or by one of its passengers. Early models of this gun were simply pintle-mounted and the firer had to expose himself in order to use it, but modern versions are equipped with an enclosed rotating cupola (a mini-turret / hatch combination) that allows safe, NBC-protected operation. The machine gun position is capable of full 360 traverse, but is used to cover the back and sides of the vehicle as the primary turret blocks the firing arc directly forward.
Panhard-Chrysler VTT-M BisEdit
The VTT-M Bis - Troop Transport Vehicle Modernized "Second" or "Repeat" - is the current model of VTT, and the second modernization of the system. It includes a number of advanced protective features, such as a "V-shaped" deflective underside, "hanging" seats which are suspended from the roof to better absorb the force of rising blasts from below the vehicle, a computer regulation system for the suspension, laser warning designators and an electronic automated fire control suite that enables it to effectively engage fast-moving, low-flying aircraft. Other features include extreme weather operations kits (originally for export versions to Scandinavia and the Byzantine Empire, but included standard in the Bis model).
This version also has a number of noise- and heat-signature suppressing features, including an auxillary all-mechanical air conditioning system that can be run in place of the standard electronic one for stealthier operations. The Bis also has a modified power plant and multipurpose automated canister systems capable of firing smoke, chaff and anti-personnel fragmentation grenades, among other types of ammunition.
As far as protection, the Bis has a double aluminum [or, over more important parts, titanium] hull designed to fit modular ceramic-composite "sandwiches" between the outer and inner metal plates. These armor bricks can be swapped out in the field by engineers as the situation requires, and the system offers a level of protection far superior to that of the Soviet BTR series APCs (being roughly comparable to the Confederation of the Rhine's Boxer IFV series). These features make it highly resistant to top-attack bomblettes and anti-personnel mines, while an advanced suite of electronic, thermal and accoustic stealth features makes it more difficult to detect. The Bis model is also equipped with both soft-kill and hard-kill active protection systems, allowing it to effectively jam the locks of incoming enemy ordnance or destroy the missiles / rockets outright using a number of tungsten-carbide pellet projectors (essentially like giant shotgun blasts). The entire hull assembly is held together using bolts, and can be disassembled to swap out the armor bricks in quite short order so that hull integrity is not compromised.
It is superior to its Soviet counterparts in every respect apart from acceleration, weight and production costs (a Soviet Army BTR being much less epensive). It is not, however, as multipurpose as the German Boxer, which is designed to fufill all sorts of missions through a module system. The VTT, being a heavily-modernized version of an older design, was not created with this feature in mind. However, its advanced electronics and active protection systems make it more survivable, even if the level of hull protection is roughly comparable. The presence of a 25mm computer-controlled cannon on the standard model also acts as an additional layer of protection, since it can be used to fire upon and intercept incoming missiles. Many Boxers, conversely, operate without any such armament, as it must be fitted onto the standard vehicle via a module.