The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) awarded a sixth contract amendment on the SCORPION programme to the consortium formed by Nexter, Arquus and Thales. The so-called MEPAC (Mortier Embarqué Pour l’Appui au Contact, Mounted Front-Line Support Mortar), covers the delivery of 54 additional GRIFFON VBMR multi-role armoured vehicles equipped with Thales’ 120-mm Rifled Recoiled Mounted Mortar (2R2M) system, which increases the total number of GRIFFONs to be delivered under the SCORPION programme to 1,872.
The rear compartment will be modified to accommodate the weapon system, mortar operators and mission-ready ammunition. Roof hatches will add flexibility. The mounted mortar will provide added mobility and precision in front-line combat operations, as well as better protection for soldiers. The mortar has a strong reputation for its semi-automatic loading system and the precision of its rifled barrel, and has been combat-proven in numerous operational theatres. This new version will include significant changes to the onboard optronics and the vehicle’s mobility systems.
The MEPACs will be built by a consortium of Arquus, Nexter and Thales with the DGA to design a new version of the vehicle concept with artillery capabilities. After qualification of the MEPAC variant, the DGA will take delivery of the first vehicles by the end of 2023, with the remaining deliveries scheduled between 2024 and 2027. The contract amendment also sees Arquus receiving an additional order for more than 250 T1 and T2 remote weapons systems (RWS) mounts for 7.62mm medium machine guns, .50 heavy machine guns or 40mm automatic grenade launchers.
The VBMR Griffon (Véhicule blindé multi-rôles Griffon, Multi-role armored vehicle Griffon’) is a French multi-role armored vehicle that will replace the French Army’s VAB armored personnel carrier. The vehicle is based on a 6×6 commercial all-terrain truck chassis and will carry up to eight infantry soldiers. 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. After 2021 a much lighter 4 × 4 version might be ordered.