The Belgian army reportedly spent $33 million on tank upgrades which have rendered the vehicles undrivable for any soldiers who are five feet seven inches or over. According to international media reports, the aim of the investment was to improve the safety of the military's fleet of 44 Pandur armoured vehicles, however, in doing so the Belgian army have significantly reduced the size of the tank's interior. The blunder is considered to be damaging as Belgium is reportedly one of the tallest nations in the world. The report noted that the average man standing is at five feet ten inch and the majority of soldiers are no longer able to drive the vehicles.
According to reports, the problem has arisen due to the installation of the second raised floor which is designed to protect against roadside bombs. The installation of reported air conditioning has also reduced the space inside the tankers. While talking to a media outlet, one Belgian member of the parliament said that the money had been thrown out of the windows. Green MEP Wouter De Vriendt further described the situation as a 'fiasco'. The head of the systems division Admiral Yves Dupont also said that the Pandurs have always had a height limitation and Five feet and seven inches was not uncommon in tanks. The fleet was reported of 44 vehicles and was bought from Austria back in 1996. Each tank reportedly also holds up to nine soldiers and travels safety over tricky terrain.
In a tweet, Wouter De Vriendt said, “The minister speaks about a 'delay' in the upgrade of the Pandur. Delay is a nice word for the fiasco. In the internal defence documents, the conclusion is hard: the vehicles cannot be used. Let us name the problems and not hide them away”.
De minister spreekt in #dekamer over een “vertraging” in de upgrade van de Pandur. Vertraging is een mooi woord voor fiasco.— Wouter De Vriendt (@WouterDeVriendt) December 18, 2019
In de interne documenten van Defensie is de conclusie beenhard: de voertuigen zijn onbruikbaar. Laten we de problemen benoemen en niet wegmoffelen. pic.twitter.com/TD3F0Xjo1J
The military has responded to the criticism. The defence ministry also said that only $1.88 million had been spent on the upgrades so far. Admiral Dupont further added that it is not the old vehicle which enters at the beginning of the chain and which leaves completely finished at the end, what they have are intermediate stages, and clearly after the first stage, the vehicle is not directly usable. He also added that to say that the vehicle is the vehicle that we are going to put into operation, it doesn't make sense. It won't be ready until it has undergone all of the changes.