The Venezuelan Humvee

In early 2004 the Venezuelan Army requested the production of a locally built, multipurpose, lightweight vehicle. In answer to the request, CAVIM (Compani a Anonima Venezolana de Industria Militar), a state owned weapons factory, joined forces with CENARECA (Centro Nacional de Repotenciacion C.A.), also a state company, located at Fuerte Tiuna, dedicated to military vehicles modernizations, and together they developed the vehicle using the American Hummer as a basis for their design.

After finishing the blueprints and initial tests in just 22 days, the prototype vehicle (named Tiuna), was completed, and after some further testing was exhibited during a military parade on the 5th July 2004. Later the

Tiuna was passed to the Army for operational tests, which included road and cross country tests and by the end of 2004 the government approved the funding for the series production. Production was to be undertaken by Vehi culos Para la Defensa (V.PD), a company owned by CAVIM and CENARECA, located at Fuerte Tiuna, renamed in 2011 as Empresa Mixta Socialista de Vehi culos Venezolanos S.A.

Just one year later the first production models of the Tiuna were handed over to the military and on the 5th July 2005 a total of 52 Tiuna were shown off during a military parade. By 2006 a total of 160 examples participated in the same parade, and by the end of that year the production of the Tiuna had reached a total of 300 examples for the Venezuelan Army, Air Force and National Guard, with a further 100 examples for government agencies, mainly as police, ambulances and environment protection. Some civil versions were also produced and the commercial manager of the company, Jahrold Maizo, stated that other South American forces had tested the vehicle with the possibility of exporting some in the short term, after the deliveries to the Venezuelan Armed Forces had been completed. He also said that the vehicle is very cheap, about 45,000 dollars each, roughly a third of the cost of a similar imported vehicle. In the end just five vehicle were delivered to the Bolivians, the first being in 2009 for testing, but no purchase orders have been received to date. In 2011, the Venezuelan government announced an order for an extra 309 vehicles, most of them to equip the Army units on the borders of the country.

The chassis of the Tiuna is built by the company Dana, at Valencia, Venezuela, from where they are taken to Fuerte Tiuna to be completed. The engine is a Mexican-built Vortec 5.3-litres V8 of 300hp and is the only part of the Tiuna to be imported, but there are plans to build the engine locally in the future. Today the company has 250 employees and they are building 3 vehicles per day, but the plan is to reach a total of 15.

The Tiuna is an all terrain vehicle of 1.25 tons with a load capacity of about 3,200 kilos and can tow a load of up to 4-tons. It has an automatic gearbox and when tested by the Engineer Institute Foundation of the Venezuelan Science and Technology Ministry, the conclusions were that the Tiuna is an excellent all-terrain vehicle that benefits from having lower centre of gravity centre than the Hummer!

In later versions, the front portion of the vehicle was improved, with the inclusion of more protection against land mines under the engine, a new windscreen and new engine cowling. The rear section was also improved to provide more protection against land mines. The Tiuna is 4.92m in length and 2m wide.

Military Variants

The variants produced for the military include three anti-aircraft versions, two on the basis of the Plataforma VA5.3 version one for the Air Force, with two Matra Mistral launchers, and the other for the Army with a single RBS-70, and a version with a 20mm Oerlikon gun was developed for the Army.

The utility version, for the Army and the National Guard, has space for up to seven crew, and can be armed with an M2 12.7 mm machine gun or a rocket launcher on the top, and has mounts for two MAG 7.62 mm machine guns in the rear.

An artillery version armed with the M-40A1 106mm recoilless gun was produced for the Army, however, this version had poor results in its original guise, due in part to the soft suspension, which could lead suspension damage after the firing of several shots, and to the vehicle moving from its position after each shot! Because of this, a smaller version, with a lower gravity centre and improved, rigid suspension was developed, with a plan to build just ten vehicle per year following a request by the Venezuelan Army.

In addition there are anti-tank versions of the Tiuna armed with a Mapats 2 missile, and a communications variant with a communications box-type shelter in the rear.

Additionally ambulance and armoured versions have been produced for the National Guard, with the ambulance fully equipped for intensive care of patients, while armoured troop carrier has the capacity to carry 12 guards.

At least two hardtop utility versions were also developed, but in the event only prototypes were delivered to the Venezuelan Army, and to date they have not entered series production, although a civil version with hard top and a pickup are being offered for sale.

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