The published specifications are more oriented to commercial vehicles

VMTT: the difficult challenges of the substitute for Santana Aníbal in the Spanish Army

The technical specifications published by the Army for its new VMTT vehicles were recently released.

The Spanish Leopardo 2E and other allied tanks in a good video of the Latvian Army
The excellent images of the Latvian Army on an exercise with the Spanish military

The All Terrain Tactical Military Vehicle (VMTT) is the official name that this document (see PDF) gives what will be the replacement for the utility SUVs Santana Aníbal and Nissan Patrol that are still in operation with the Army (which still has about 2,000 Aníbal vehicles and a much lower number of Patrols). The specifications do not offer a scenario that is not at all favorable to a solution from the Spanish industry.

A Santana Aníbal from the Headquarters Battalion of the Brigade "Guadarrama" XII (Photo: Elentir).

One of the main stumbling blocks is on page 11 of the specifications, which indicates the maximum prices contemplated for the different variants: between 51,000 euros (for the single-cab rack version) up to 75,000 (the workshop/multipurpose version with double cab). These are low prices for what is common in military SUVs and seem to lean towards more commercial models. Santana closed in 2011, and the great Spanish alternative would be the Galician company Urovesa, which currently manufactures the VAMTACs for the Spanish Armed Forces.

The Urovesa VAMTAC LTV (Photo: Urovesa).

Currently Urovesa has a light SUV, the VAMTAC LTV, a model that has been sold to the armies of several countries. However, the specifications published by the Army do not seem to fit that model. Last Thursday, in a statement published by the newspaper El Correo Gallego, the CEO and president of Urovesa, Justo Sierra, pointed out: "From what I understand they are tactical 4x4 vehicles with platform More like commercial. It would be lower grade than what we normally make."

Two Santana Aníbal of the BRILAT (Photo: Elentir).

It would not be the first time that the Galician company was left without being able to provide light SUVs to the Army. Let us remember that the contest in which that vehicle was chosen was launched in 2003, but the choice was made in 2004, already with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (PSOE) at La Moncloa. Autobild pointed out in this regard: "the true advantage of the Linares company was not technical, nor economic, but political. At that time, the Xunta de Galicia was chaired by Manuel Fraga, while the Junta de Andalucía was headed by Manuel Chaves and, coincidentally, at the head of the Ministry of Defense was another of the barons of the PSOE since the 90s: José Bono."

A Santana Aníbal of the BRILAT Military Police (Photo: Elentir).

Finally, Santana took the contract. El Aníbal had a very good reputation back then, but problems soon began: in 2008, 86% of Aníbals deployed to Afghanistan and Lebanon were crippled due to breakdowns. It was learned then that the first technical problems had begun to be detected in March 2005, when only a few months had passed since his election by the Spanish Army. There were even accidents due to detached wheels and problems with the transmission, as published at the time by El Confidencial Digital.

Two Santana Aníbal of the BRILAT (Photo: Elentir).

At that time, Urovesa marketed a light SUV focused on military customers, the Uro VAM-TL . It would have been a good alternative to Santana Aníbal, but the Galician company was the big loser in that contest. Finally, several hundred VAM-TL were sold to Morocco, whose Army continues to use them to this day, without any news of the technical problems the Spanish Army suffered with the Aníbal. Will history repeat itself now?

A Uro VAM-TL military ambulance of the Moroccan Army. Several hundred of these vehicles were sold by Spain to Morocco after the Spanish Army rejected them in favor of the Santana Aníbal (Photo:

If Urovesa finally runs out of options to participate in this contest, the Army would have to look for other options abroad. Among the most possible is the Volkswagen Amarok that is currently used by both the Military Emergency Unit (UME) and the Marine Infantry, and which has an even more affordable price than those indicated by the Army in its specification (although have also given problems to the UME). There are more civil options, but their challenge is that they respond to the harsh conditions that are expected of a vehicle for military use. And that is a great challenge.

The VW Amaroks of the UME used by personnel of the Special Operations Group (GEO) of the National Police in the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 (Photo: @Fauerzaesp).


Main photo: Elentir. Two Santana Aníbal of the BRILAT Logistics Group.

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