Thirteen new VBMR Griffons have arrived in Fréjus in the French 21st Marine Infantry Regiment. The 21st Marine Infantry Regiment thus becomes the fourth army unit to receive these vehicles on which two combat companies will be formed from August for a period of two months. The training phase will allow pilots, weapon operators and group commanders to practice directly on the vehicle. From November, two additional companies of the regiment will be trained in turn. The French Army (Armée de terre) had already received 92 of these VBMR Griffons in 2019. According to the French Army’s 2020 Defense White Paper it plans to buy up to 2,122 VBMR vehicles between 2018 and 2025.The French army has been preparing to replace the VAB since the early 2000s.
The 21st Marine Infantry Regiment (21e Régiment d’Infanterie de Marine, 21e RIMa) is a unit of the French military issued by filiation from the 2e RIC. In recent years the 21e RIMa has been engaged in theatres in central-Europe. The regiment was cited at the orders of the brigade for action in Kosovo in 1999. The regiment can be deployed in overseas missions or fill the service of missions in service of the public in metropolitan France. The regiment is the designated guardian of the traditions of the Troupes de Marine. Motoryzed infantry regiment on vehicles of the avant blindés (VAB), the 21e RIMa has for preponderant missions, the protection of national territories, the intervention in Europe and outre-mer territories privileging Amphibious warfare.
The VBMR Griffon (Véhicule blindé multi-rôles Griffon, lit. ‘Multi-role armored vehicle Griffon’) is a French multi-role armored vehicle that will replace the French Army’s VAB armored personnel carrier. A consortium of Nexter, Thales, and Renault Trucks Defense is building the vehicles. The same consortium also builds the EBRC Jaguar reconnaissance and combat vehicle for the French Army, which shares 70% of its components with the VBMR Griffon. The consortium building the “Griffon” and “Jaguar” is contractually obliged to keep the price per Griffon under €1 million. The vehicles are designed for simple maintenance and logistics. For example, Griffon and Jaguar both use standard commercial truck engines, which have been adapted to use a wider range of fuel.
The vehicle is based on a 6×6 commercial all-terrain truck chassis and will carry up to eight infantry soldiers. After 2021 a much lighter 4 × 4 version might be ordered, which will be used as a reconnaissance vehicle. Currently, six versions of the Griffon are planned, with four of these (Armored Personnel Carrier, Command Post, Ambulance, and Artillery Observer) ordered in the first tranche. The Griffon is equipped with a remote weapons station that can be armed with either a 12.7mm or 7.62mm machine gun, or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher. The addition of two Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP) anti-tank guided missiles is optional. Eight launchers for smoke grenades are fitted to the remote weapon station, which also includes an acoustic sniper localisation system.