Light armored vehicles, a French specialty

Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput and his French counterpart Florence Parly signed an agreement to supply the Belgian armies with 60 EBRC Jaguar light tanks and 382 VBMR Griffon armored personnel carriers, equipped with the SCORPION battlefield control and information system. For the French consortium made up of Nexter, Arquus and Thales (among others), this € 1,6 billion order is the largest from a European country to the French defense industry since 2000 when Greece ordered 55 mirage2000-5 and the necessary armament for the same amount.

If the French armored vehicles have had some success in Europe and around the world in recent years, it is essentially linked to its ability to produce light armored vehicles, the qualities of which are frequently highlighted by the French armies in combat operations.

Thus, the mobility and firepower of the Daguet division during Operation Desert Storm made the reputation of the VAB, which was manufactured in more than 5000 units, 1000 of which were exported to 17 countries, and of the light tank. AMX10RC which was admired by the Americans as it was mobile and masterfully maneuvered by the crews of the 1erForeign Cavalry Regiment of Oranges.

This couple was the spearhead of the French forces during operations in Afghanistan as in Mali, and their effectiveness was at the heart of the choices which gave birth to their replacements, the Jaguar Armored Reconnaissance and Combat Vehicle, and the Armored Vehicle Multi-Role Griffon, the first examples of which will arrive next year in French units.

Beyond equipment, Belgium has just acquired a whole philosophy of land combat, as French postulates diverge from those traditionally used by Western armies. Thus, the Jaguar, equipped with a turret with a 40mm CTAS 40 cannon with 180 projectiles, a 7,62 tele-operated machine gun and an articulated launcher for 2 MMP anti-tank missiles, combines a significant power of fire, even against heavy armored vehicles thanks to anti-tank missiles with a range of more than 5 km, and very high mobility, with its 6×6 chassis and its 500 HP engine for 25 tonnes in combat conditions. The VBMR is based on the same logic, with a 12,7 mm teleoperated turret, 2 7,62 mm machine guns, and interior space to transport 9 armed soldiers in conditions of greatly improved comfort compared to the VAB.

Where American or German designs rely above all on significant armor and strong firepower, French models emphasize mobility and maneuver. This philosophy was also at the heart of the design of the CAESAR self-propelled gun which showed immense qualities in Iraq, in its ability to fire far and quickly, and above all to be able to very quickly leave the firing zone. 

Finally, all these models, including the Armored Infantry Combat Vehicle already in service in the French armies, and ordered by Qatar in 490 examples, are air transportable by an aircraft in the A400M category, an aircraft capable of bring these armored vehicles 6000 km away and place them as close as possible to the engagement zone.

Resulting from 40 years of external operations by the French armies, French light armored vehicles are a benchmark in the field, and this quality, like the proximity of engagements and the African experience of the Belgian armies, explains the choice of our neighbors.

However, if VBCI, CAESAR, EBRC and VBMR today perfectly meet the specifications of projection forces, they risk lacking protection in the event of high intensity conflict, characterized by intense use of artillery and weapons. anti-tank. With the resurgence of threats in the East, it will be necessary to quickly deploy the hard-kill and soft-kill devices planned as part of subsequent modernization, as well as to strengthen self-defense capabilities in the face of aerial threats.

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