The upgrade of Leclerc main battle tank to fourth-generation was announced in March 2015. The plan was to have the first two prototypes of the XLR system ready sometime in 2018 and the remaining 198 of the order completed over the eight years from 2020. The contract was valued at approximately €330 million. On 29 December 2022, the French defence procurement agency (DGA) awarded Nexter an order for 50 renovated Leclerc tanks (XLR). Industrial qualification tests are continuing in close collaboration with the DGA and the French army. A first prototype tank was delivered to the DGA at the end of 2022, and the first 18 operational tanks will be delivered to the Army in 2023, according to the planning of the renovation contract awarded to Nexter on 1 June 2021. A renovated tank integrated an open architecture, the new radio system, NBC protection system, night vision system and the SCORPION Information and Command System (SICS).
The first objective of this renovation is to integrate the Leclerc main battle tank, known as ‘XLR’, into the SCORPION collaborative warfare system with a new combat information system (SICS). The Leclerc XLR keeps the original main armament of the standard Leclerc which consists of a Giat 120 mm 52 caliber smoothbore gun designated the CN 120-26. The roof of the turret will be equipped now with a remotely operated weapon station manufactured by the Belgian company FN Herstal which will be armed with a 7.62mm machine gun. The Leclerc Scorpion is upgraded with a new armor package that includes additional modular armor on the hull and the turret. The front part of the hull side is protected by thick passive armor, while the rear part is fitted with wire cage armor to protect the engine compartment against attacks of RPGs (Rocket-Propelled Grenade). The rear part of the hull is also fitted with wire cage armor.
The Leclerc Scorpion or XLR is a modernized version of the French-made Leclerc Main Battle Tank (MBT) designed and manufactured by the French Company Nexter Systems. The modernization of the Leclerc MBT (Main Battle Tank) to the standard Leclerc XLR is part of an ambitious modernization program of the French army called Scorpion program which consists of a $6.8 billion multi-company modernization effort aimed at replacing all French frontline fighting vehicles. In January 2022 Nexter officials were contacted by India on participating in the Future Ready Combat Vehicle program with the proposal of the Leclerc XLR. In April 2022 talks were held between Nexter representatives and Croatian delegation about possible acquisition of Leclerc XLR tanks for Croatian Army.
The Leclerc is a third generation French main battle tank developed and manufactured by Nexter Systems. It was named in honor of Marshal Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, a commander of the Free French Forces, who led the 2nd Armoured Division in World War II. The Leclerc is in service with the French Army, Jordanian 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. With production now complete, the French operate 222 Leclercs, while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) possesses 388. With a combat weight of 56 tons, the Leclerc is one of the lighter main battle tanks in the world, this gives it one of the best power-to-weight ratios among Western tanks (27 hp per ton) and makes it one of the fastest MBTs of its generation (0 to 32 km/h in 5 seconds).