“Currently, we’re building the second prototype of the VR-1 FOX vehicle, while working on various improvements and eliminating any deficiencies we find,” says Ali Jansons, creator of the idea for the vehicle
and board chairman of SIA Vāģi.
He points out that the current events in Ukraine demonstrate the need for a vehicle that can be quickly mounted and, even more importantly, quickly dismounted. The vehicle has a top speed of 160 km per hour, and it is intended for both on-road and offroad conditions.
“The advantage of an ultra-light, unarmoured military vehicle that weighs up to 2 tonnes is that you can drive
it on forest roads, in meadows and fields, something not really possible with an armoured vehicle
weighing 4.5–5 tonnes. In forested areas, the vehicle will be able to comfortably travel even at a speed of 60–80 km/h, making it possible for the vehicle to evade attack drones,” Jansons says.
He points out that the vehicle has a four-wheel independent suspension and an adjustable
all-wheel drive system, and a full tank gives it a range of 900 km at moderate speed on paved roads. It took about eight years to bring the vehicle from the initial idea to a functional first prototype.
VR-1 FOX assembly involves a total of about 10,000 parts, of which more than a thousand SIA Vāģi
produces on-site. “I don’t know of any manufacturers that would produce 100% of the parts needed for assembling their vehicles, and our company produces not only the vehicle chassis, its suspension
and swing axles, but also many other important components, such as the brake system and even the
dashboard,” Jansons explains.
“We’ve thought about many important details. For example, the vehicle’s winch is in the back, but
its cable can be attached both at the front and in the back. This means that the car essentially has wheels
at the front, and there is neither a bumper nor a winch in front of the car that can make it get stuck in a ditch,”
He mentions another important factor in that the vehicle has no sidebars, as its height allows you to get in or out in one step, which is very important for combat conditions with soldiers wearing a full harness and body armour.
"We have also worked on the car’s ergonomics,’ Jansons says. The car is intended to accommodate four passengers, but more soldiers can also get into it, and it has space for a mounted machine gun.
The main testing of the VR-1 FOX military vehicle is to take place in the spring of 2023. “We are also
continuing our work on a version of the car with an enclosed body: with a roof cover, windows, and
doors. It is not only the Latvian National Armed Forces that have shown their interest,” says Jansons, who also does not rule out some Foxes going to Ukraine.
In terms of how long it would take to produce the first VR-1 FOX after the contract is signed, Jansons estimates, "At least nine months." He notes that with current facilities, some 50 Fox vehicles could be produced every year. If in the current difficult conditions the demand for VR-1 FOX rises significantly,
to 100–200 units, then it will be necessary to think about hiring additional employees and expanding the production plant.
“No, Fox will not be offered to civilian buyers, because UN and EU rules set a package of mandatory requirements for civilian vehicles, such as the minimum amount of electronics, ABS, other things, including crash tests, which military vehicles are not subject to,” Jansons says.
Last year, LTV attended a special event at which the VR-1 FOX was previewed – you can see it below.
This feature is reproduced by kind permission of the German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (AHK) and their Baltic Business Quarterly publication. You can find out more about the Chamber at the official website and read the full latest edition of Baltic Business Quarterly magazine here: https://www.ahk-balt.org/lv/publikacijas/zurnals.