VBL Ultima 4×4 light armored tactical reconnaissance vehicles
VBL Ultima 4×4 light armored tactical reconnaissance vehicles

Arquus Set to Deliver 90 VBL Ultima in 2021

Arquus is expected to deliver 90 VBL Ultima 4×4 light armored tactical reconnaissance vehicles in 2021. Essential partner of the French Army with more than 25,000 vehicles currently in service, Arquus will progressively modernize 733 VBLs to the new VBL Ultima standard. The VBL Ultima is an upgraded version of a French Panhard VBL, also known by its acronym Panhard VBL or simply VBL. The VBL Ultima is fitted with a new 130 hp PSA DW10F engine, W5A580 automatic gearbox, transmission, braking and cooling system. ARQUUS currently being developed, its T1 and T2 remote-controlled weapon systems, developed as part of the Scorpion program. The self-supporting body of VBL Ultima is made of very high-density steel of between 5 and 11 mm thick, and the armoured windows offer the same protection as the steel. From 4.5 t, goes to 5.2 t for a load capacity of 1.3 tonnes.

The vehicle’s hull is stripped down at the Arquus Marolles-en-Hurepoix facility and roof-mounted weapon stations removed. It is then sent to the Arquus facility at Fourchambaut (Nievre) where any repairs are done, such as welding or replacing damaged windows. Mounting points on the hull are also fitted to enable applique armour to be installed. The refurbished hull is then resprayed; windows, doors, and hatches are installed; and it is sent back to Marolles-en-Hurepoix for final assembly and testing before delivery to the French Army. Second VBL Ultima production line has been installed at the company’s Saint-Nazaire plant in order to increase the production rate, although Arquus declined to say what the production rate would be.

The Panhard Véhicule Blindé Léger (“Light armoured vehicle”) is a French wheeled 4×4 all-terrain vehicle built by Panhard. The vehicle is offered in various configurations, and was designed to combine the agility of the Peugeot P4 liaison vehicle with adequate protection against small arms fire, artillery fragments, mines and NBC weapons. Produced between 1985 and 2010, the vehicle has been used by the French Army and other European, African and Central American armies in various conflicts since the 1980s. The VBL has been used in many peacekeeping operations of the French Army, notably in Lebanon, Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosovo. The advanced vehicles are being upgraded under a 2017 contract from French Government Defence procurement and technology agency (Direction Générale de l’Armament, DGA).

Renault Trucks Defense, an armoured vehicle subsidiary of Volvo Group, was renamed Arquus on 24 May 2018, as part of the launch of a new strategy for the business. Renault Trucks Defence, which produces wheeled armoured vehicles and is also responsible for the Panhard and Acmat brands, had been targeted for divestment from Volvo for close to a year, until efforts to find a buyer were dropped in October 2017. Arquus builds on its century of experience. From the AMD to the AML, from the EBR to the VBL, ARQUUS’ armored vehicles are built on a unique know-how in terms of protection and mobility, honed for more than a century by visionary engineers and craftsmen, in synergy with the military commanders and according to the Army’s needs.

French Army VBL Ultima 4×4 scout vehicles on the Marolles-en-Hurepoix production line. (Photo by Arquus)