The French Army 3rd Régiment Parachutiste d’Infanterie de Marine (3rd Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment, RPIMa) took delivery of the very first examples of the VBMR-L Serval, the new light multirole armored vehicle of the Scorpion program. Intended to replace the Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé (VAB) which entered service more than 40 years ago, the Serval is one of the four new armored vehicles (along with the Griffon, the Jaguar and the MEPAC) developed as part of of the Scorpion armaments program conducted by the General Armaments Directorate. This program is characterized by the arrival of modern and interconnected armored vehicles, capable of practicing collaborative combat thanks to the exchange of data in near real time.
Véhicule Blindé Multi-Rôle Léger Serval (Lightweight Multirole Armored Vehicle Serval, VBMR-L Serval) was developed by Nexter in an extremely short time to complement the Griffon armored personnel carrier and Jaguar armored reconnaissance vehicle. 4-wheeled and designed to operate in areas of contact with the enemy, it is particularly maneuverable and will primarily equip infantry units of light brigades. French Armed Forces use this armored vehicle in three main versions, including patrol, reconnaissance and communications vehicle. Each variant is available in a number of subvariants. By 2023 at least 29 variations of the baseline Serval were available. The French Army will have 119 Servals. In total, the Scorpion program provides for the delivery of 978 units by 2035.
The vehicle is powered by an 8.9-liter diesel engine, developing 375 hp. Engine is mated to an automatic gearbox with 6 forward and 1 reverse speeds. The vehicle is also fitted with a small auxiliary power unit, which powers electrical systems when the main engine is turned off. In its baseline form this armored vehicle is operated by a crew of 2, including the driver and vehicle commander/weapon operator. The Serval can be equipped with a remotely-controlled weapon station. The Serval accommodates 8 dismounts. Troops enter and leave the vehicle via rear doors. Vehicle drive and commander use their own side doors. The vehicle is fitted with a central tyre inflation system and run-flat tyres.
The VBMR is one of four next-generation vehicles being developed under France’s Scorpion program. The French Army’s entire SCOPRION modernization program exemplifies the numerous benefits afforded by defense consortiums. First announced 2014, the Jaguar would be manufactured by a defense consortium of comprised of French companies Nexter, Arquus and Thales as part of the wider SCORPION armored vehicle modernization program. Due to a multitude of factors including the expansive scope of the SCORPION program, a defense budget with limited growth potential and a historic preference for domestically sourced defense solutions, the French DGA (Direction Général de l’Armement) took a particularly active role in the establishment of the defense consortium between French defense firms Arquus, Nexter and Thales.