Monday, November 14, 2011

One french effort to keep under a watchful eye

As France begins to seriously move towards its Véhicule Blindé Multi-Role, the British Army is going to look with more and more interest into their effort. The VBMR is intended to be a multirole troop carrier, with which the French army plans to replace the Véhicule Avant Blindé. The new vehicle is actually intended to be a 20 ton range 6×6 wheeled armored base for a whole family of vehicles destined to Marine and Mechanized Infantry formations of the french armed forces.

The Troop Carrier variant would carry some 9 fully equipped soldiers and offer the same NATO STANAG 4A protection level of the VBCI, but at lower cost. The vehicle will also carry stores for 48 hours of high intensity operations.

France has a requisite for some 1000 vehicles, to replace 4000 VABs in the various variants. Ambitiously, they expect to pay 1000 vehicles with just 1 billion euro.

For the British Army, the VBMR might become an attractive starting point for FRES Utility Vehicle, which even in this period of cuts, remains in the plan, with the Army reportedly aiming to restart it by 2016 or 2018, aiming for a 2022 in-service date.

France aims to put the first vehicles in service in 2016, so, if times were roughly respected, the UK could piggy-back on the production line and achieve, by collaborating, significant advantages and economies of scale.
The VBMR is a fundamental part of the french effort for the modernization of their land vehicles fleet, and in 2010 R&D contracts and feasibility studies were awarded by the french ministry to Renault Trucks Defense and Nexter Systems.
Both companies were asked to produce platform demonstrators with full mobility, as well as conceptual armor protection suits, to be delivered within the next two years.

Nexter has so far showcased the XP-2, while Renault came up with its own 6×6 design, called AMC, along with a potential VAB upgrade idea.
Now, however, the two companies have decided to team up to pursue the contract full-force, and ensure their long term survival. 

More in the report from

At the same time, Lockheed Martin UK is now entering negotiation with Panhard and Nexter to gain a role as weapon and systems integrator in the French land vehicle programmes.
LM Uk is the leader in the Warrior upgrade effort, and also provides the turret for the FRES Scout.

Lockheed could collaborate with the French in the fields of turrets and related systems; weapon integration, including the CT40mm cannon with which it is working so heavily in the UK; and in weapon handling systems, electronic architecture, vehicle health monitoring and energy management.

The 17 tons Sphinx from Panhard is the most likely base for EBRC

The FRES UV contenders in 2008 were larger, 8x8 vehicles bordering on the 30 tons or more. A contender was the french VBCI, along with Boxer and Piranha V (in reality, since the Piranha V was still a paper tiger, the trials were done with a Piranha IV "Evolution"). The Italian Freccia was briefly considered as well.

However, financial reality has reportedly meant that the British Army is already reconsidering its option, and interest for the VBMR is said to be growing.
For sure, both the VBCI and the VBMR are going to be examined a lot more carefully if FRES UV survives and effectively restarts as wished. In the meanwhile, following the progress of the VBMR will be very interesting.

The Nexter XP2 prototype, developed with the VBMR requirement in mind. The french VBMR experience could have a massive influence on the British Army FRES UV effort

The Land Modernization programme of the French Army is known under the name SCORPION, and is meant to bring together several very different but related effort. Scorpion is conceived as a system of systems, encompassing tanks, armored personnel carriers, the Tiger attack helicopter and battlefield management systems down to the Felin infantry kit, with networkcentric warfare as its main objective. 
The Scorpion effort thus brings together very different programmes, from updates of existing kit to networkization of the various parts, to introduction of whole new vehicles. On the vehicle side, Scorpion includes:

Leclerc MBT modernization 
Véhicule Blindé de Combat d’Infanterie (VBCI) - 630 on order; last one expected for delivery in 2015. It is the IFV of the French army, and replaces the earlier, tracked AMX-10P 

Véhicule Blindé Multi Role (VBMR) - replacement for Véhicule Avant Blindé (VAB)
Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance et Combat (EBRC), - replacement for the light tanks Sagaie and AMX 10RC, destined for recce missions. Some 290 to 300 are required.

Nexter and Renault now appear to be leading the race for the VBMR, while Panhard is the likely winner of the contract for the EBRC, with its famous and fascinating Sphinx prototype being a likely base for the final EBRC.

More info is available here.

If we really wanted to draw a direct comparison between the French army modernization and the British Army's own, we would see:

Challenger II Capability Sustainment Programme; on hold; assessment phase to be completed "around the middle of the decade"
Warrior CSP; unlike the French army, the British army still holds its tracked IFV dear, and has no plans to replace it with a wheeled platform.
FRES SV; kind of an awkward comparison, it must be admitted, but it is the british effort that relates to the french EBRC.
FRES UV; has its 'companion' in the VBMR, even thought FRES UV is (or at least was) quite more ambitious, and quite bigger on all accounts.

The Scorpion effort is likely to have a great influence on the British Army's own efforts, especially now that collaboration with France is at the top of the agenda.
So it is worth keeping a watchful eye over the development of their own programmes. Particularly in fields such as that of VBMR.


  1. Here's something you could possibly expound upon- Integration On Typhoons Eyed For India

    Such a concept for the Typhoon shows that EADs has a few tricks up it's sleeve. It would be more than adequate for most anti-ship missions unless you plan to go and sink a US CVN!! Another weapon I'd look at is the Norwegian NSM missile which has both anti-ship and land attack functions.

  2. Interesting indeed. I have some good material on the Marte missile family, and i was aware of the aircraft compatibility: it is offered to the UAE along with the Alenia M/T-346 trainer/light attack aircraft, but i had not yet heard of the Typhoon prospect.
    And yes, the NSM is interesting as well.

    Thanks for sharing!


Everybody can comment on this blog without needing a Blogger account. It is meant to keep the discussion free and open to everyone. Unfortunately, anonymous accounts keep the door open for spammers and trolls, so i'm forced to moderate comments and approve them before they appear. Apologies for the inconvenience.