Modern Spanish Armor

VERT (Vehículo de Exploración y Reconocimiento Terrestre)

Kingdom of Spain (2015-Present)
4×4 Reconnaissance Vehicle – 17 Delivered

The URO VAMTAC is a Spanish 4×4 vehicle developed in 1998, inspired by the design of the American Humvee. Serving as the primary multipurpose 4×4 vehicle for the Spanish Army, the URO VAMTAC stands out due to its modularity and adaptable chassis, leading to a diverse range of variants. One particularly overlooked variant is the VERT (Vehículo de Exploración y Reconocimiento Terrestre – Ground Exploration and Reconnaissance Vehicle). This vehicle remained in relative obscurity, overshadowed by more attention-grabbing contemporary projects, such as the ASCOD Pizarro or the VCR Dragón.

One of the VERTs of the Spanish Army. Source: VERT: el caballo del explorador del siglo XXI – El club de los Jinetes de Farnesio (

Historical Context – The Need for a Reconnaissance Vehicle

Although the first prototype of the URO VERT emerged in 2015, the concept of a reconnaissance and exploration vehicle dates back to 2004. The necessity for cavalry units to possess a vehicle capable of conducting in-depth exploration and reconnaissance tasks was apparent. Additionally, there was a need to provide real-time information about the situation of the battlefield.

This concept materialized into the VERT project, intended not only for deployment in Spain but also for utilization in various conflicts that the Spanish Army might face. Consequently, the selected platform had to be versatile enough to operate in different scenarios and diverse weather conditions. Moreover, the vehicle had to be adaptable for use in all types of conflicts, including those with high war intensity, NBCR (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, Radiological) environments, or non-confrontational operations (for example UN operations).

Considering that the vehicle was expected to be part of the cavalry brigades employing the Spanish 6×6 VEC (Vehículo de Exploración y Caballería – Reconnaissance and Cavalry Vehicle) armored vehicle and the Italian B1 Centauro in service with the Spanish cavalry brigades, the VERT was designed for stealth reconnaissance, aiming to avoid direct confrontation. As a result, the platform forming the basis of the VERT needed protection against 7.62 mm projectiles, light weight, and basic defense against mines and improvised explosive devices.

Cause the VERT was intended for stealth reconnaissance, the vehicle has been designed to perform the following tasks:

  • move to the site of action without being detected
  • surveillance for as long as needed
  • transmitting real-time information

The First VERT

Based on the specified tasks and requirements for the VERT vehicle, a list of specifications was issued:

Vehicle characteristics 4×4 configuration
– Protection against 7.62 mm caliber rounds and mines
– Reduced size for enhanced stealth
– Tools for effective ambient camouflage
– Low thermal signature to avoid detection
– Low-noise design for discrete movement
– Great mobility and capability to be transported in planes or helicopters
Sensor system Multisensor system installed on a 360º mast, equipped with:
Laser rangefinder.
Day and night vision capabilities.
Armament Options for a self-defense weapon, preferably installed on a remote-controlled weapon station for the operator’s safety:
7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine gun
Alternatively, a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher
Communication systems Long-range and state-of-the-art communication systems
Real-time data transmission capability for photos and videos
Additional optional defensive features Capability of installing a laser illuminator
Active protection system
Inhibitors to counter electronic threats
Electromagnetic Detectors for detecting hostile electronic emissions
Other Integrated battlefield management system
Tools and equipment necessary for unmanned aerial vehicle deployment if needed

Characteristics for the VERT. Source: Vehículo de Exploración y Reconocimiento Terrestre (VERT) | Ejércitos (

The VERT project was spearheaded by the Spanish company Navantia, specifically by FABAS Systems, headquartered in Cádiz, Spain. FABAS Systems is a company that works in integrating control systems for both civilian and military ships, playing a role in Spanish naval projects such as the S-80 submarine, the L-61 aircraft carrier, and the F-100 frigates. In addition to their naval contributions, FABAS Systems is actively engaged in the licensed manufacturing of various calibers of cannons, including 73 mm caliber.

Curiously, the chosen platform for the VERT project was not the URO VAMTAC, but rather the Italian Iveco LMV. The decision to opt for the Italian vehicle over the Spanish counterpart was driven by a practical consideration. At that time, armored variants of the URO VAMTAC were not yet available, only existing on paper. Consequently, the project utilized the only light and armored vehicle projected for future use by the Spanish Army, amounting to approximately 346 vehicles.

Examples of various Iveco LMV in Spanish service. Source: Una Joven Vocación Militar: IVECO LMV (Lince) (

In January 2006, the Iveco VERT demonstrator was dispatched to the Centro de Adiestramiento “San Gregorio” (San Gregorio Training Center) for evaluation by the Cavalry Brigade “Castillejos” II. The report generated by the testing team provided a favorable assessment, emphasizing that the vehicle could serve as the foundation for various variants, such as artillery observation, command post, anti-aircraft, and anti-tank missile carrier, among others.

Despite the positive evaluation, the project encountered several difficulties, primarily stemming from a lack of funds, leading to a gradual slowdown. Despite efforts to overcome these challenges, including intervention by the Spanish company Indra to present a project with the same objective using as a base the URO VAMTAC I3, the project was ultimately canceled. The URO VAMTAC I3 based variant, which had briefly served, was decommissioned after a couple of years.

The project of the URO VAMTAC I3 based variant of Indra. It served a couple of years after being taken out of service. Source: Vehículo de Exploración y Reconocimiento Terrestre (VERT) | Revista Ejércitos (

Revival of the VERT

During the early 2010s, FABAS became involved in the ASCOD Pizarro VCOAV project. VCOAV stands for Vehículo de Combate del Observador Avanzado (Advanced Observer Combat Vehicle). The ASCOD Pizarro VCOAV essentially utilized the chassis of the ASCOD Pizarro VCPC (essentially the command post variant of the original ASCOD Pizarro) equipped with a surveillance system developed by FABAS consisting of a sensor pedestal located at the rear of the Pizarro. This system facilitated exploration, detection, location, and identification capabilities.

Prototype of the ASCOD Pizarro VCOAV. Source: Pinterest

The ASCOD Pizarro VCOAV prototype underwent testing in November 2013 at Santa Bárbara Sistemas. The prototype demonstrated satisfactory performance, however, project delays ultimately led to the cancellation of the ASCOD Pizarro VCOAV. Despite this setback, FABAS, in parallel to the development of the vehicle, and anticipating the cancellation of the ASCOD Pizarro VCOAV, started studying the prototype and how to adapt the system designed for the vehicle to be applicable to any other vehicle. This marked the birth of the SERT.

The SERT (Sistema de Exploración y Reconocimiento Terrestre – Ground Exploration and Reconnaissance System) is essentially the system designed for the ASCOD Pizarro VCOAV, but in a modular configuration, capable of being equipped by a variety of vehicles. Its first public presentation was during SITDEF 2013, an event held in Peru to showcase the latest military products. The system allows for tasks such as surveillance, detection, and identification of objectives during both day and night. It also has the capacity to geographically locate targets.

Demonstrator of the SERT during the SITDEF 2013, using as a chassis an American Hummer and equipped with an Italian HITROLE remote controlled weapon station. Source: Los sistemas de Navantia SERT de Vigilancia de Fronteras y el SVAP, de vigilancia de aguas próximas, en Homsec – Noticias Defensa HOMSEC 2015 Channel

In an attempt to revive the VCOAV program, FABAS requested a URO VAMTAC S3 to create a demonstrator of the VCOAV. The vehicle was constructed between 2013 and 2015 and was sent to Spanish artillery units for testing. It received positive feedback, prompting FABAS to suggest that the VERT program could be revitalized with some modifications to the original design.

Demonstrator of the SERT installed on an URO VAMTAC S3. Source: SERT, Sistema de Exploración y Reconocimiento Terrestre de Navantia Sistemas FABA (
As a curiosity, the URO VAMTAC S3 demonstrator was later converted to a command post in 2023. Source: El reconvertido 4X4 VAMTAC a la variante de puesto de mando – Noticias Defensa España

The suggestion had the intended effect, and in 2015, a decision was made to relaunch the VERT program, using the URO VAMTAC ST5 as the base. One prototype was scheduled, and later in 2016, two pre-series vehicles were manufactured for testing by the Spanish Cavalry Regiment No. 11. The testing phase concluded in July 2016 with the readiness for production, and in 2017, the serial production commenced.

The final design of the VERT with the SERT module installed on an elongated URO VAMTAC ST5 chassis. Source: La Legión recibe los vehículos de reconocimiento VERT – Noticias Defensa España


The final iteration of the VERT is an URO VAMTAC multipurpose vehicle equipped with the SERT system. This chassis provides the vehicle with the capability to maintain concealment, aligning with its designated purpose.

The vehicle’s dimensions are 5.9 m long, 2.9 m wide, and 2.3 m tall (excluding the remote-controlled weapon station and the mast). Its combat weight is 9,950 kg and can traverse vertical slopes of up to 60% and lateral slopes of 30%.

Primarily designed for reconnaissance and surveillance tasks, the VERT is equipped with high-quality sensors to effectively monitor the battlefield. The vehicle has the capability to transmit information gathered by its sensors using IP-directed systems. A security section comprises four VERTs grouped into two sets of two vehicles, all operating under the command of a main commander vehicle. The vehicle features various communication systems for voice radio and data, managed by a communication management terminal. Additionally, if required, the vehicle can be fitted with two VHF PR4G V3 Supermux radios for command and task communication, facilitated by the data replicated through the battle management system. It can also be configured to a high-frequency network using Harris 117G radios, allowing for voice communication and sufficient bandwidth to transmit real-time images captured by the vehicle. Furthermore, it can be preinstalled with a communication and data system via the BGAN Explorer satellite, although it is not currently utilized for tactical communication.

Chassis and Engine

The chassis of the VERT is based on the URO VAMTAC. The URO VAMTAC (Vehículo de Alta Movilidad Táctico – Tactical High Mobility Vehicle) is a 4×4 vehicle developed in Spain by the Spanish company UROVERSA. Serial production began in 1998, and the vehicle is often mistaken for the American Humvee due to their similar appearance. This resemblance is because, although they are entirely different projects, UROVERSA designed the vehicle taking inspiration from the American counterpart, explaining the striking similarity in their looks.

Visual comparison between the URO VAMTAC S3 and the Humvee, in this case both in Romanian service. Source: URO VAMTAC – Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre Humvee-Romanian Military Car Editorial Stock Image – Image of humveeromanian, gear: 105172989 (

The URO VAMTAC is available in various versions, providing flexibility for conversion into different configurations based on the intended application, thanks to its modular design. The VERT specifically utilizes the URO VAMTAC ST5 as its chassis, which is the armored variant of the URO VAMTAC that entered serial production around the mid-2010s. Compared to earlier versions, the URO VAMTAC ST5 is more heavily armored, offering a moderate level of protection against mines. Additionally, if required, it can be equipped with modular armor to further enhance its protective capabilities. Depending on the level of protection, it can be designated as URO VAMTAC ST5 BN1, URO VAMTAC ST5 BN2, or URO VAMTAC ST5 BN3, where a higher index in the BN signifies a higher level of protection.

Lateral view of the VERT. Source: Uro vamtac st5 bn2 vert | manuel gomez llano | Flickr

The VERT is propelled by an Austrian Steyr 217 hp diesel engine, enabling the vehicle to achieve a maximum speed of 118 km/h on roads. While these specifications may seem acceptable on paper, concerns voiced by the Spanish Army indicate that the vehicle may be underpowered. This issue is primarily attributed to the additional weight introduced by the SERT system on the URO VAMTAC ST5’s chassis.


The SERT is a versatile and modular system designed to be mounted on various vehicles. This system performs functions such as reconnaissance, surveillance, terrain reconnaissance, and target identification and acquisition.

Physically, the SERT consists of a retractable MecMast mast with a maximum height of approximately 4 m, a sensor pedestal, a Battlefield Management System, and a set of controls and terminals for human-machine interfaces.

Rear of the VERT where the mast with the sensors of the SERT system can be seen. Source: (292) Pinterest
Top view of the vehicle with the mast at its maximum extension. Source: Militar – EUROMAST | Fabricante de mástiles telescópicos
Top view of a pair of VERT in their factory. Source: Navantia Sistemas completa el contrato de los vehículos de reconocimiento VERT – Noticias Defensa España

The pedestal located on the top of the mast is equipped with several key elements, including:

  • IR Cástor HR camera – a thermal camera designed for nighttime use with a resolution of 640×512 pixels.
  • TV Viniris-S camera – a Sony-brand camera with a range of 23 km and an optical magnification of 23x. Capable of recording in color within a lux range of 1-100,000 or 0.7-100,000 in black and white.
  • Zeiss LDM 45 laser rangefinder – a Zeiss laser rangefinder with a maximum reach of 20 km and a minimum of 100 m. Capable of detecting 5 targets simultaneously with a maximum error of 5 m.
  • Digital compass

This configuration enables the VERT to detect vehicles at distances ranging from 18 to 20 km and identify them within a range of at least 7 km. Personnel of foot can be located and identified at least 4 km. The Battlefield Management System utilizes a Tacter Talos terminal with software designed for command and control functions, spanning the planning phase through the execution of operations. Regarding terminals, there is a primary terminal for controlling the SERT and a Hercules terminal that transmits the vehicle’s position.


The VERT is equipped with either a 12.7 mm M2HB machine gun or a 7.62 mm MG-3 machine gun as its armament for self-defense. Both weapons are mounted on a Mini Samson remote-controlled weapon station. The Mini Samson, of Israeli origin, was previously in service in Spain, installed on the RG-31 Nyala mine-resistant vehicles. As a curiosity, it was also proposed to be mounted on the 8×8 VCR Dragón infantry fighting vehicle variant.

A VERT equipped with a MG-3 machine gun. Source: VERT: el caballo del explorador del siglo XXI – El club de los Jinetes de Farnesio (
Another VERT, in this case equipped with a 12.7 mm machine gun. Source: Los VERT de la BRILEG validan su potencial en corrección de fuegos – Noticias Defensa España

Crew and Internal Layout

Operating the VERT requires a crew of four: driver, commander, gunner, and SERT system operator. The driver is positioned at the front left of the vehicle and is provided with a camera located at the top windshield. This camera transmits both daytime and thermal images to a screen located on the car dashboard. To enhance the driver’s orientation, the camera can be moved either to the right or left using a rail system, particularly useful for nighttime operations. The images from this camera can also be transmitted to the commander and the SERT operator’s screens.

The vehicle’s commander is situated just to the right of the driver and is responsible for assigning tasks and commanding the vehicle. The commander’s post is equipped with a specialized terminal for visualizing TOBS (Terrain Observation, Battlefield Surveillance), TEA (Target Engagement Assessment), and TAC (Tactical Air Control), facilitating streamlined control of the vehicle.

The VERT’s commander’s post. The control station of the remote controlled weapon station (right) and the Battlefield Management System (center). Source: | Vehículo de Exploración y Reconocimiento Terrestre (VERT) (
Detail of the commander’s control station screen. In the image it is a Spanish VEC reconnaissance vehicle. Source: VERT: el caballo del explorador del siglo XXI – El club de los Jinetes de Farnesio (

The gunner is positioned just behind the driver and is equipped with a joystick and a front-facing screen to operate the remote-controlled weapon station. The Mini-Samson, part of the vehicle’s armament, features a day-night camera with a reach of 1,500 m. This capability allows it to function as an additional independent surveillance system, complementing the SERT operator’s role.

The gunner’s post in the VERT. Source: VERT: el caballo del explorador del siglo XXI – El club de los Jinetes de Farnesio (

Finally, the SERT operator is located behind the commander, which operates the pedestal and the Hercules terminal.

Training of the Legión elite forces of Spain with the VERT, showing the SERT post. Source: EQfJvtXWsAA6V_J (1600×1066) (


The VERT is built on an URO VAMTAC ST5 BN2 chassis, indicating that the vehicle can withstand 7.62×39 mm armor-piercing rounds at 30 m with a velocity of 695 m/s. Additionally, it is designed to withstand 155 mm high explosive ammunition shrapnel at 80 m and can endure the impact of mines or explosive devices under the wheel and center of the vehicle weighing up to 6 kg.

Production and Service

The VERT’s production commenced in 2017, with 17 vehicles dispatched to units between 2017 and 2018. These vehicles were allocated to the Cavalry Regiment “España” No.11 and the Light Armored Cavalry Regiment “Reyes Católicos” II of the Spanish’s Legion elite forces. Although additional deliveries were not officially announced as of March 2024, the Spanish Army revealed plans to have a total of 138 VERT vehicles by the following years.

In service, despite the vehicle’s acknowledged capabilities, it faced several controversies. A significant issue noted was the underpowered nature of the vehicle, leading to substantial problems in its tactical mobility. Compounding this, due to sensor failures, the VERT’s engine restricts its power to only 60% of its total capacity. Consequently, various proposals were put forward, such as reducing the vehicle’s weight by minimizing armor or enhancing the engine, similar to the VAMTAC ST5 used by the Spanish Marines, which features a more powerful 188 kW (252 hp) engine.

Other identified problems include insufficient power in the electrical system to operate various vehicle systems and recharge batteries. The vehicle’s ergonomics were also deemed inefficient, with complaints about seat quality and issues arising after extended periods inside the vehicle.

Issues with the SERT system were also evident. Complaints ranged from the day-time camera ceasing to function after exposure to the sun for more than 45 minutes, leaving only the infrared camera operational, posing a significant challenge in target identification.

Another notable problem was the excessive brightness of the screens, causing light leakage outside the vehicle. While this might not be problematic during the day, it becomes a concern during night operations. To address this, the installation of polarized filters on the system screens or the vehicle windows is being considered.


The Spanish Army has outlined plans to enhance the VERT’s capabilities. Several proposals have been put forward to address the identified issues with the vehicle. Moreover, specific programs are in the pipeline to enhance the vehicle’s stealth capabilities. One notable proposal involves transforming the VERT into a hybrid vehicle. Considering that the hybrid system would further increase the weight of an already heavily burdened vehicle, there is also contemplation for a potential shift to hydrogen fuel as a future power source. This probably aligns with the VAMTAH concept, a project initiated by UROVERSA to convert their light military URO VAMTAC SK trucks into hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Regarding the SERT, FABAS launched what could be regarded as SERT 2.0 in June 2022, featuring various upgrades, including artificial intelligence and new cameras. While the Spanish Army has not officially announced plans to integrate this new system into the VERT, there may be potential developments or intentions to do so in the future.

Side Note – Escribano’s VERT?

During the FEINDEF 2019 expo, Escribano, a Spanish company renowned for its contributions to the defense sector, particularly in electronic components and remote-controlled weapon stations, unveiled an URO VAMTAC configuration reminiscent of the VERT vehicles in service with the Spanish Army. This vehicle is outfitted with the SCOA (Advanced Combat and Observation System) developed by Escribano, which includes the Guardian 2.0 remote-controlled weapon station equipped with a 7.62mm M134D rotary cannon and the OTEOS sensor.

The OTEOS (Observation and Tracking Electro-Optical System) is designed for target observation and detection, boasting capabilities such as target detection up to 16 km away, reconnaissance capabilities extending to 13.5 km, and target identification at distances of up to 12 km. Primarily intended for reconnaissance and surveillance missions, this system resembles the functionality of the VERT vehicles utilized by Spanish military units.

The SCOA system of Escribano on the URO VAMTAC ST5, which resembles a lot of the SERT system of FABAS in service with the spanish VERT’s. Source: La amplia oferta de Escribano en FEINDEF-noticia – Noticias Defensa FEINDEF 2019


The VERT, with its advanced technical approach and modular capability, represents a significant milestone in the development of multipurpose military vehicles in Spain. Despite initial challenges, such as a lack of funds leading to an initial setback, the momentum gained from the ASCOD Pizarro VCOAV program contributed to the development of the vehicle needed for cavalry units. In terms of meeting expectations, the substantial issues affecting its performance in its originally designated tasks cannot be overlooked. However, these challenges highlight key areas for improvement, indicating that the vehicle has the potential for enhancement. Ultimately, the project is not considered futile, as it provides opportunities for future refinements and adjustments.

URO VERT, illustration by David Bocquelet.

Specifications of the VERT

Weight in combat (kg) 9,950
Max velocity (km/h) 118
Engine (HP) 217
Specific power (hp/tonne) 21.8
Autonomy (km) 538
Turning radius (m) 8.5
Armament 1 12.7 mm M2HB machine gun or 1 7.62 mm MG-3 machine gun
Dimensions (L x W x H) m 5.9 x 2.9 x 2.3


Vehículo de Exploración y Reconocimiento Terrestre (VERT) | Ejércitos (

SERT, Sistema de Exploración y Reconocimiento Terrestre de Navantia Sistemas FABA (

El Ejército comienza las pruebas de aceptación del prototipo del Vehículo Observador Avanzado (

Vehículo de exploración y reconocimiento terrestre VERT – Ejército de tierra (

El Ejército de Tierra recibe el primer prototipo del 4×4 VERT de Urovesa-Navantia, noticia – Noticias Defensa España

Alfredo Gordo: “Vamos a dejar el SERT al Ejército para que lo pruebe y lo evalúe” (

VERT: el caballo del explorador del siglo XXI – El club de los Jinetes de Farnesio (

Los VERT de la BRILEG validan su potencial en corrección de fuegos – Noticias Defensa España

El Ejército retomará este año la compra de vehículos de exploración e inteligencia sobre Vamtac (

La DGAM adjudica casi 700.000 euros a URO para desarrollar su Vamtac híbrido con pila de hidrógeno (

Un VAMTAC ST5 con propulsión híbrida para el reconocimiento sigiloso en la Caballería de Ejército de Tierra-noticia – Noticias Defensa España

Tecnología gaditana para entrar en combate (

La amplia oferta de Escribano en FEINDEF-noticia – Noticias Defensa FEINDEF 2019

Artículos | OTEOS y APOLO (

“Memorial de caballería” December 2019 nº88

César Torrejón Miralles. Estudio de las posibles mejoras a implementar en el Vehículo de Exploración y Reconocimiento Terrestre (VERT). University of Zaragoza

Víctor Manquillo Huete. Estudio sobre la aplicación del acuerdo de estandarización STANAG 4609 en fuentes de vídeo no MAJIIC. University of Zaragoza

“Armas y Cuerpos” April of 2019 nº140

IKONOS PRESS. Vehículos de Combate de Infantería PIZARRO. 1 ed.

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