French manufacturer Nexter increases rates of armored vehicle production

While the future French Military Programming Law (2024-2030) should be presented to the National Assembly and the Senate next May and June, for an amount unprecedented since the 1960s of 413 billion euros, the Roanne site of Nexter is working to achieve a production target of 450 armored vehicles per year from 2025, Stéphanie Gallo Triouleyre reports in the French newspaper La Tribune. That is more than three times what came out of its factories in 2018. This site must also absorb the renovation of 200 Leclerc tanks to bring them to the XLR standard, the first batch of which was notified by the DGA a few weeks ago.
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VBCI displayed at IDEX 2023 defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Let us remind that Nexter Systems produces a variety of armored vehicles at their facility in Roanne, the primary production site for the VBCI (Véhicule Blindé de Combat d'Infanterie) infantry fighting vehicle, which is used by the French Army and other countries. The Roanne facility also produces the Leclerc main battle tank and the Aravis mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle. In addition, Nexter Roanne produces various weapon systems, ammunition, and other military equipment. Nexter Systems Roanne, a historic site of French armored vehicles since the Second World War, had come down to the bottom of the wave in 2015 to 700 employees. It currently has nearly 1,500, including several hundred recruited since 2018.

On 29 December 2022, the French Defense 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. The 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, in accordance with the schedule of the renovation contract awarded to Nexter on 1 June 2021.

A renovated tank integrated into the SCORPION collaborative warfare system

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 XLR is equipped with the CONTACT radio and the vetronics common to SCORPION vehicles. In addition, its protection and aggression capabilities are raised to the highest level, thanks to:
• Enhanced protection against mines and rockets;
• The addition of a 7.62 mm remotely operated turret for urban combat;
• The development of a new fire control system with the ability to fire ammunition with a programmable effect or trigger.

Nexter, Thales and Arquus met annual delivery milestones for 2022 in line with the provisions of the 2019-2025 Military Programming Law. Since 2019, the French Defense procurement agency (DGA) has taken delivery of a total of 452 Griffon and 38 Jaguar vehicles. The EBMR consortium has also developed a new field ambulance version of the Griffon: the Griffon SAN (sanitary). The new medevac version was qualified by the DGA on 12 September 2022. It includes a medical module, provisions for medical equipment integration and stowage, and a patient support system with an adjustable table and stretcher lift. The interior is configured to accommodate patients seated or lying down, with room for four stretchers. The SAN version includes all the common features and functions (mobility, weapon systems, protection and connectivity) of the Griffon family.

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Nexter will bring 200 Leclerc tanks to the XLR standard (Picture source: Army Recognition)

SCORPION, an ambitious programme

The Jaguar armored reconnaissance and combat vehicle (EBRC) and the Griffon multi-role armored vehicle (VBMR) were developed under the SCORPION programme led by the DGA, alongside the VBMR-L Serval light multi-role armored vehicles. They are natively designed for the SCORPION combat information system (SICS), enabling land forces to conduct collaborative combat operations, with real-time communications between deployed units and other digitalized battlefield solutions to ensure that the French Army would stay one step ahead of the adversary in a high-intensity conflict situation. The first SCORPION combined arms brigade will be formed at the end of 2023 to deploy these new combat capabilities.

The Jaguar is a 25-tonne armored reconnaissance and combat vehicle armed with a 40 mm cannon with telescoped munitions (CTA) and the MMP missile. The vehicle is unique in several respects:
* it has three advanced turret-mounted weapon systems: the 40 mm CTA cannon from Nexter, two medium-range missiles (MMP) from MBDA and the T3 remote weapon station;
* its state-of-the-art vetronics, developed by Thales, includes latest-generation optronic systems (IR/TV, missile launch detector, laser warning receiver, etc.) and an onboard tactical training capability;
* its new-generation chassis, developed by Arquus, as well as all-wheel drive (6x6), an innovative suspension system and a 400hp engine, provide exceptional tactical, theatre-level and strategic mobility for a 25-tonne vehicle.

The Griffon is a 24-tonne multi-role armored vehicle, available in numerous versions, including troop transport, command post, communications relay, artillery observation and 120 mm mortar (MEPAC). Deployed by the French Army in the Sahel in 2021, the GRIFFON is recognized for its operational performance, high mobility and ease of maintenance. It includes the common systems developed for the other SCORPION vehicles, such as the vetronics, the SICS combat information system and the Hornet remote weapon station.

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Jaguar EBRC displayed at Eurosatory 2022 (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Defense News March 2023