The French government defense procurement and technology agency (Direction générale de l’armement, DGA) has conducted the first mine blast tests and loading on Airbus A400 military transport aircraft with the French Army new VBMR Leger Serval 4×4 armored vehicle on December 11, 2020. The VBMR Leger (Véhicule Blindé Multi-Role Léger – Light Multirole Armored Vehicle) nicknamed Serval is part of the SCORPION (Synergie du contact renforcée par la polyvalence et l’infovalorisation) program, which also includes the VBMR (Véhicule blindé multi-rôles Griffon – Multi-role armored vehicle) Griffon 6×6 multirole armored vehicle and EBRC (Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance et de Combat – Reconnaissance and Combat Armoured Vehicle) Jaguar 6×6 reconnaissance armored vehicle, which will be produced by the Nexter, Arquus and Thales consortium.
The Serval is a design intended for light combat duty, operating in contested zones across the front. The Light Multirole Armored Vehicle will have a combat weight of around 17 tons. Its inherent speed and survival aspects allow for it to partake in the critical early phases of an operation and can fully support specialized missions conducted by special forces elements of the French Army. The SERVAL will arrive through three distinct production forms: the VPB, NCT, and SA2R. The VPB is the Armored Patrol Vehicle variant designed specifically for reconnaissance, security detail, and limited fire support. The NCT is the Tactical Communication Node model equipped with extra communications equipment for the role. The SA2R is the Surveillance, Acquisition, Intelligence, and Recognition model giving commanders better “eyes” on the battlefield in terms of information-gathering.
In addition to this, the SERVAL can be equipped to operate in most any environment – be it temperate, desert, or Arctic in nature. The Serval will be fitted with a remote-controlled weapon station that can be armed with 7.62 mm, 12.7 mm machine or 40 mm automatic grenade launcher. With their multi-role capability, the Serval will be equipped with the SCORPION information and communication systems (SICS). Bullet-resistant windows and armor provide the occupants of the car with some protection against small arms fire and artillery spray as well as concealed Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The light-class design of this vehicle, as well as its relatively compact dimensions, mean that the SERVAL can be transported in the belly of a heavy-hauler such as the Airbus Military A400M “Atlas” four-engined transport.
The Serval will be used by the French Army to succeed an aging line of VBL (Véhicule Blindé Léger – Light Armored Vehicle) beginning in 2022. The 4×4 light-class armored car being developed for covering Leclerc main battle tanks and armored vehicles. In February 2019, it was announced that the Serval will be designed and manufactured by the French Companies Nexter and Texelis. Nexter is in charge for the design of the vehicle while Texelis will manufacture the suspension and the transmission. According to the draft of the French state armament program for the period 2019–2025, the service awarded Nexter an initial contract for 489 VBMR Leger vehicles (an increase from the previously planned 358) in February of 2018. Up to 978 vehicles will be procured into 2030. A second batch of 1,060 vehicles could be ordered.