France finally kickstarts Scorpion land vehicle acquisition

According to Thales, Belgium selected the company for onboard intelligence and data capabilities of its Land Forces.

The CaMo contract awarded by the French defense procurement agency (DGA) on behalf of Belgium includes 60 Jaguar external link reconnaissance and combat vehicles (EBRC) and 382 Griffon external link multi-role armored vehicles (VBMR).

As with France’s Scorpion program, under this contract Thales is in charge of common combat vetronics, including communications, onboard computing and decision support solutions, and perimeter vision, self-protection and navigation systems.

VAB Ultima
This major program intends to rationalize a hodgepodge of aging land vehicles and systems while preserving France’s industrial base. The 2 main vehicles in this program share a common chassis and will offer protection from mines and IEDs and ballistic threats at NATO’s STANAG 4569 Level 4. There’s been no public information on engines yet.

The main components of the planned, full acquisition are:

1,722 véhicules blindés multi rôles (VBMR)
Dubbed “Griffon”, VBMRs will replace Véhicules de l’avant blindé (VAB) 4×4 infantry carriers acquired starting in 1976 and upgraded in the late 90s. While the ubiquitous VAB turned into 36 variations, no more than a handful of VBMR variants should be created, between troop transport, medical, command/control, and artillery observation purposes.

The 6×6 designs will weight between 20 and 24 tons, with a remotely-operated 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun or a 40mm grenade launcher. Deliveries should reach 780 units by 2025. The infantry transport version will carry 8 troops in addition to the crew of 2.

248 engins blindés de reconnaissance et de combat (EBRC)
Dubbed “Jaguar”, EBRCs will replace AMX10RC and Sagaie light tanks, as well as VABs in their HOT antitank configuration, to perform combat and reconnaissance missions. These legacy vehicles lost mobility and autonomy with upgrades, but their design remains vulnerable to current threats, and they have become expensive to maintain given their average age. VABs for instance grew from an initial 13 tons to about 16 tons in the latest Ultima configuration.

Jaguar is a 6×6 wheeled 25-ton design with a crew of 3. For armament it will be fitted with a 40mm cannon jointly developed by Nexter and BAE with a 1,500m reach, a remote-controlled 7.62mm machine gun, and MBDA’s MMP (3,500, reach). Deliveries should reach 110 units by 2025.

358 lightweight VBMRs
This 10-ton 4×4 design will replace 4-ton Véhicules Blindés Légers (Light armored vehicles) procured since 1990. Deliveries between 2021 and 2025 should reach 200 vehicles.

The Système d’information du combat SCORPION (SICS)
This common communications platform will replace 6 separate legacy systems, starting in 2016.

200 overhauled Leclerc XL tanks
This looks somewhat like an extraneous graft in this program, so that France doesn’t give up entirely on what’s left of its battle tank fleet.