A new life for the unstoppable VM 90. What do the commanders think?

(To Gianluca Celentano)

On the off-road and reliability qualities of the Iveco VM90 multi-purpose vehicle we did not fail to praise due. It is a valid and essential project where even the measures (including lower light and wheelbase distance) fit perfectly making it one of the best off-road promiscuous. A cross between a truck and a jeep created to prioritize utility and versatility over ride comfort.

A successful vehicle born from the reinterpretation of Iveco Daily 4x4, the van that appeared on the commercial market in '78.

The VM90 or perhaps better to say the Daily which I nicknamed "the chameleon" due to its unmistakable front circular lights, is still the "mutant king" given the amount of uses.

If we are looking for a camper, a tanker, a construction vehicle, a minibus rather than a mining vehicle or even an amphibious vehicle, we will almost always come across some variant of Iveco Daily.

Our precious VM90 is still (fortunately) a witness of that successful and robust technology typical of military vehicles of other times to which must be added, let us not forget, the ACM90.

Many adventures, born to last

I still remember when I ended up wading with the waterline above the door handle... Obviously I was without a snorkel but inserting the reduction blocks and giving a good acceleration I resurfaced going up the inclined stony ground in front of me without problems which I think had an inclination well over 60%.

When you reach the top practically vertically, you lose all references, from the windscreen you can only see the sky and you have to try to remember the trend of the steep section. From that moment it is tackled only by tire friction and engine torque until the VM rears up as if to continue in a vacuum, settling down quite gently with the help of the accelerator.

The restyling

After its military debut thirty years ago, the unstoppable chameleon has undergone substantial, albeit hidden, restyling among the series produced from 2003 to 2015. These concerned the fuel systems, which went from in-line pump to common rail, the instrumentation, the displacements and powers (from 100 hp in 86 to 145 in '08-VM90T3), as well as the transmission passed from part time BorgWarner (4x2 insertable) a full time NVG (permanent 4x4) New Venture Gear.

Reducer/distributor: according to confidences, the original BorgWarner system has recorded excellent reliability compared to the more modern due to its simplicity full-time NVG, probably attributable to an inaccurate use of the distribution system.

Torsion bars: they are basically suspensions which, on the front of the VM90, assist the hydraulic shock absorbers. They counteract the torque of oscillations by resisting the torsion effect, taking up less space and being extremely resistant and long lasting. Their diameter increased in 2008 (from 31 to 33 mm) to increase resistance in the most critical uses and stability.

The 70l sheet metal tank in 2008 passed to 80 liters thanks to the use of the polypropylene container, more resistant to heat and isotactic.

The chassis plates have also been increased by 4 to 5mm and the rollbar has been added to the platform which always maintains 7 total seats (3 of which in the cabin), except for the protected which has 6 total seats in the armored module.

The gross vehicle weight increased in the same period from 4450 kg to 4700, also increasing the maximum permissible mass at the front from 2050 to 2150 kg and the towable mass from 1500 kg to 3500 on the VM90 T3/F1C, by far the most advanced.

“MUV on missed change?”

In reality, the new Daily has already been in army service for some years, but from the outset it was understood that Iveco absolutely does not want to associate the MUV 70.20 platform with the current Daily with which it officially shares "only" the shape of the cabin. Indeed the Military Utility Vehicle 70.20, despite the various and compelling elaborations available on the net, does not seem, at least according to an indiscretion, to be convincing enough to replace the good VM90. Indeed, a new life is expected for the unstoppable "90" and there are many questions about what will one day replace them.

A pity because Iveco is a leader in the construction of enginesvans e trucks (I remember Iveco Massif 3.0 HPT), with 27 plants located in 16 countries around the world.

The guidelines are missing

Thirty years ago the VM90 was part of a wide-ranging project management process between the defense staff and manufacturing companies. Unofficially, this intersection between the needs of the army and the opportunities to interact with the project is a bit nuanced, leaving companies with the task of offering only "products".

This situation is probably attributable to the historical period taking place from the nineties to the present day. Thirty years in which the army has evidently been breathing down its neck, called upon in a very short time for activities and missions, but is also awaiting decisions that clearly establish the role of the Italian defense sector in a context of European armed forces. A condition which for the means essentially translates into accepting offers already packaged by the European tactical means market, today schematized by classes, roles and functions.

I understand that the technical-operational details of the vehicles pay the price, which could have more indigenous characteristics linked to national service and safety requirements.

AID and IDV: The VM90 is tempting

With a press release dated 9 November 2022, it is learned that the Spolette Military Plant of Torre Annunziata, in collaboration with IDV (Iveco Defense Vehicles), has completed the first reconditioning works of a series of demilitarized VM90 vehicles no longer in service at the Armed Forces.

These reconditioning are part of the broader framework of the Ministry of Defense's international cooperation programs with the aim of promoting an ever more cohesive policy of collaboration with the Armed Forces and Police Forces of other countries. An agreement signed in 2021 with Iveco Defense Vehicles, which represents an important industrial relaunch of the AID (Defense Industries Agency) which will reactivate the workshop of the Torre Annunziata plant. So new production outlets, new jobs, with the recovery of efficiency, productivity and trade to pave the way for new public-private partnerships, promoting a circular economy.

The “VM90” project will allow AID to deliver another batch of refurbished vehicles to be placed on the international market as soon as possible.

All very interesting, but it seems evident that the VM90s are not redeemed by a long-term lease, but have already been largely paid for by the Italian State; it will be interesting to understand what this "fair exchange" will bring to the army... Just a chameleon the VM!

Photo: Italian Army / web / Truck4x4.DVD / Twitter