Weapons photo

No one wants to be the first to discover the use of a chemical weapon on a battlefield, but if anyone must have that job, the new Par Chemical Biological Radioactive Nuclear (CBRN) Reconnaissance Vehicle is the car to do it in. Developed by Turkish defense contractor FNSS, the CBRN version is a light armored vehicle ready for the end of the world. Even if its name is a jargony mess.

The basis for this CBRN variant is the Pars six-wheel-drive amphibious armored vehicle. Like most armored cars, it bears a superficial resemblance to a tank, though the fact that it has wheels instead of tracks is a dead giveaway that it’s something else. Previous versions of the Pars can carry eight troops inside, while a vehicle driver and commander operate the truck.

On display at the International Defense Exhibition in Abu Dhabi, the Pars CBRN variant gives up half of its troop-carrying capacity to become instead a front-line chemical detection hub. For protection, a grenade launcher or a machine gun can be mounted on a turret outside the vehicle, but the weapon isn’t the point. The sensors are.

The vehicle has three external sensors that can detect chemical weapons, likely including mustard gas and sarin, among others. In addition, there’s a detachable device inside the vehicle’s glove box that can analyze solid or liquid samples. The Pars also has a mass spectrometer and a gas chromatograph, both of which can be taken outside the vehicle to analyze samples in the field, offering a higher accuracy than other sensors. There are sensors for radioactive material and bioweapons on board, too. The vehicle can even use an interlocking delivery system to place “NATO standard ground marking flags” from within the vehicle, so it can designate an area that’s contaminated.

Why is Turkey developing a vehicle like this? It’s useful for a variety of nations, but Turkey borders Syria. During peacetime, Syria’s dictators accumulated a stockpile of chemical weapons. Despite some success by international efforts to destroy those stockpiles, they are likely not entirely gone, as evidence of chemical weapon use in the Syrian civil war keeps showing up.

If the Syrian war spills any further over its borders and Turkey finds itself drawn into the conflict in a big way, an armored scout that can check battlefields for chemical weapons is a useful thing to have. Now all the Pars 6X6 CBRN Reconnaissance Vehicle needs is a snazzier name.