The VAB was designed as a wheeled troop transporter, complementing the tracked AMX-10P. Specifications for the project called for an NBC-proof, amphibious, lightly armoured vehicle to provide infantry with basic protection against shrapnel and light infantry weapons. These features were dictated by its possible usage in the event of an all-out conventional war breaking out against the Warsaw Pact; in particular, the amphibious capabilities were needed to bridge the rivers in Eastern France and in Germany.
Companies Panhard and Saviem/Renault answered the requirement, and the Renault prototype was selected in May 1974, with 4000 units ordered. The first delivery occurred in 1976, and production continued at a rate of 30 to 40 units a month.
A double armoured door at the rear allows access to the passenger compartment. Two inwards-looking, foldable benches provide space for 5 soldiers each. The crew enters the forwards compartment through two lateral hatches, the driver on the left, and the gunner of the right; two more hatches in the roof give access to armament and provide for emergency exit. The front windows are bullet-proof and heated, and can be further sheltered from incomming fire by armoured pannels which can be either entirely shut, or leave a small slit for observation; the windows on the side and rear doors are covered by a similar system.
The engine is located behind the driver, while the right side of the vehicle is kept free, providing a passageway between the crew and passager compartments.source3d modelling