Starting this month of July, the French troops are joining NATO’s multinational enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battalion in in Rukla, Lithuania. In total, France will deploy 300 troops in Lithuania for a six-month rotation. NATO’s enhanced forward presence in the Baltic states and Poland was established in 2017 in response to the Russian aggression in Ukraine. The unit in Lithuania is led by Germany and hosts around 1,200 soldiers from eight NATO allies. The battalion trains together with host nation forces and take part in multinational exercises.
The French Ground Force unit is bringing Leclerc tanks and VBCI infantry fighting vehicles to Lithuania. The return of French forces to Lithuania in July takes the form of the deployment of 5 Leclerc tanks, 14 VBCIs (armored infantry fighting vehicles) and 5 VAB armored vehicles. These means, more important than in the past (one more Leclerc tank), will be provided by the 5th Dragoon Regiment (5 RD). This marks the second deployment of French soldiers in the country since 2018.
The Leclerc tank (French: char Leclerc) is a main battle tank (MBT) built by GIAT, now Nexter of France. It was named in honour of General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, who led the French element of the drive towards Paris while in command of the Free French 2nd Armoured Division (2e DB) in World War II. The Leclerc is in service with the French Army and the United Arab Emirates Army. In production since 1991, the Leclerc entered French service in 1992, replacing the AMX 30 as the country’s main armoured platform.
The Véhicule Blindé de Combat d’Infanterie (VBCI) is a French Infantry fighting vehicle designed to replace the AMX-10P. They entered active service with the French Army in 2008, with 630 vehicles ordered up to 2010. The 8×8 wheel combination is designed to make the VBCI more comfortable and less costly than a tracked vehicle, while giving it sufficient mobility to back the Leclerc tank. The VBCI is also designed to be transportable by the Airbus A400M, with an empty mass less than 18 tonnes (full load mass up to 28 tonnes).The VBBCI is built on an aluminium hull which carries a modular.