France’s army is a hardened and seasoned fighting force, having been deployed oncontinuous overseas operations for nearly 40 years. However, much of its inventory wasbought before any of these operations began and is in urgent need of replacement.
This major program intends to rationalize a hodgepodge of aging land vehicles and systems while preserving France’s industrial base. The 2 main vehicles in this program share a common chassis and will offer protection from mines and IEDs and ballistic threats at NATO’s STANAG 4569 Level 4. The main components of the planned, full acquisition are:
Dubbed Griffon vÃ©hicules blindÃ©s multi rÃ´les (VBMR) will replace VÃ©hicules de l’avant blindÃ© (VAB) 4Ã—4 infantry carriers acquired starting in 1976 and upgraded in the late 90s. While the ubiquitous VAB turned into 36 variations, no more than a handful of VBMR variants should be created, between troop transport, medical, command/control, and artillery observation purposes.
The 6Ã—6 designs will weight between 20 and 24 tons, with a remotely-operated 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun or a 40mm grenade launcher. Deliveries should reach 780 units by 2025. The infantry transport version will carry 8 troops in addition to the crew of 2.
Dubbed Jaguar engins blindÃ©s de reconnaissance et de combat (EBRC) will replace AMX10RC and Sagaie light tanks, as well as VABs in their HOT antitank configuration, to perform combat and reconnaissance missions. These legacy vehicles lost mobility and autonomy with upgrades, but their design remains vulnerable to current threats, and they have become expensive to maintain given their average age. VABs for instance grew from an initial 13 tons to about 16 tons in the latest Ultima configuration.
Jaguar is a 6Ã—6 wheeled 25-ton design with a crew of 3. For armament it will be fitted with a 40mm cannon jointly developed by Nexter and BAE with a 1,500m reach, a remote-controlled 7.62mm machine gun, and MBDA’s MMP (3,500, reach). Deliveries should reach 110 units by 2025.
This 10-ton 4Ã—4 design will replace 4-ton VÃ©hicules BlindÃ©s LÃ©gers (Light armored vehicles) procured since 1990. Deliveries between 2021 and 2025 should reach 200 vehicles.
The SystÃ¨me d’information du combat SCORPION (SICS)
This common communications platform will replace 6 separate legacy systems, starting in 2016.
200 overhauled Leclerc XL tanks
This looks somewhat like an extraneous graft in this program, so that France doesn’t give up entirely on what’s left of its battle tank fleet.
With the first stage of Scorpion coming to a conclusion in the early 2020s, France will launch thesecond step in 2023. This will include the completion of the deliveries of the Jaguar, Griffon, andVBMR-L vehicles, as well as the modernisation of the French Army’s existing combat equipment.Principally, the latter will include the modernisation of France’s Nexter VBCI 8x8s and an update tothe FELIN soldier system. Step 2 is planned to last until 2035. In total France has 630 VBCI vehicles: 520 VÃ©hicule de Combat d’Infanterie (VCI) IVFs and 110VÃ©hicule Poste de Commandement (VPC) command post vehicles. Step 2 will see these vehiclesupdated to allow them to integrate seamlessly with the rest of the Scorpion vehicles. Accordingly,this will see them fitted with the SICS and CONTACT radio systems as well as Scorpion vetronicsand theatre kits. Additionally, the effort will provide an engineering mid-life update to the vehicle and will incorporate some new capabilities. Among the new capabilities expected to be added are:fitting MMP missiles to the IFV’s turret, enhancing the vehicle’s optics, and incorporating newammunition types for its 25 mm main gun.