The VBMR Griffon, the Joker of the French Army, arrives in the units

On the occasion of a ceremony organized on the Satory site, in the presence of the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Bosser, was symbolically presented with the plaque registration of the first Griffon Multi-Role Armored Vehicle of the French forces. 91 other examples will follow this year, to begin equipping French regiments, and replace the venerable VAB. In total, 936 of the 1722 Griffons ordered will have to be delivered by 2025 on the execution of the current LPM.

The entry into service of the Griffon, built by Arquus, Nexter and Thales, represents a major development for the French forces. It will replace the VAB, which entered service in 1974 and produced more than 5000 units, including 4000 for the French armies, which despite its qualities, are now showing the weight of the years, and has reached its limits in terms of scalability. If a VAB in 1976 only weighed 13 tonnes in combat mass, today it exceeds 17 tonnes, once equipped with the armoring, detection, communication and engagement systems added over the years, which hampers its mobility, increases its consumption, and ultimately reduces combat effectiveness.

VBMR griffon close-up Analyzes Defense | Armed Forces Budgets and Defense Efforts | Military logistics chain
The Griffon with its masts extended. We see the Galix protection system projecting smoke, masking the vehicle on the visible and infrared spectrum.

The VBMR is designed to take on these developments, thanks to a mass of 26 tonnes, and a 400 hp engine propelling this 6×6 on all terrains, while ensuring sufficient electrical production for all on-board systems. Because beyond its remotely operated turret housing a 7,62mm machine gun, or its GALIX protection system, it is before these systems that give the Griffon its tactical value. Indeed, the new armored vehicle carries a range of detection systems, such as a laser alert, a missile departure alert, and a situational camera, as well as the battlefield information and communication equipment of the FELIN system. . Thus, the VBMR can maintain contact and communicate with the 8 dismounted infantrymen, as well as with the other vehicles of the SGTIA[efn_note]Sous Inter-Army Tactical Group[/efn_note] and higher echelons, to coordinate support and actions at the fight. This FELIN system will equip not only the VBMR Griffon and the VBMR Leger Serval, but also the VBCI, the ERBC Jaguar and the Leclerc tanks, allowing the entire tactical echelon to share information and coordinate its actions. Therefore, the VBMR only differs from an Infantry Combat Vehicle in its armament, knowing full well that this can be reinforced if necessary, due to the size of the armored vehicle.

The second advantage of the Griffon is its price. Indeed, the framework contract provides that the acquisition price of the vehicle must not exceed one million Euros, a relatively reasonable price for an armored personnel carrier, but very attractive for a vehicle with such scalability potential. Remember that the VAB, its elder, had more than 50 different versions, ranging from troop transport to tank destroyer, including the mortar and ambulance version, and even a version for cleaning landing strips. With greater power, particularly electrical, larger dimensions offering an interior volume 3 m3 greater than the VAB, and its modular design in terms of information system, we can be assured that specialized versions of the VBMR will not take long to arrive.

Finally, last point, and not least, the Griffon was designed in a program of programs approach, by sharing 70% of its equipment with the EBRC Jaguar and the Serval, so as to reduce its logistical footprint, and improve its operational availability. All of these points were able to convince the Belgian forces, who placed orders for 382 VBMRs and 60 EBRCs, so as to have optimum interoperability with the French forces.

Stryker dragoon Defense Analysis | Armed Forces Budgets and Defense Efforts | Military logistics chain
The Stryker Dragoon armored personnel carrier with a 30mm turret for high-intensity theaters.

The fact remains that, if the Griffon is today perfectly designed for low to medium intensity theaters, its armament, like its protection systems, are undersized in the event of high intensity combat. Some armed forces, such as the British, have chosen to only equip themselves with infantry fighting vehicles, which are heavier and better armed, but less suited to long travel. The United States replaced the M113 tracked personnel carriers with the Stryker, 8x8, lighter than the Griffon at 16,5 tonnes. But quickly, they came to the conclusion that these vehicles must have superior firepower and protection to be able to participate effectively in high-intensity combat, such as in Europe. Thus, nearly 1000 Strykers out of the 4500 in service will be upgraded to the “Dragoon” standard, equipped with a turret armed with a 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster II cannon and a V-shaped hull to resist mines and IEDs. A reasoning that should probably not be overlooked as international tensions make conflict with technological nations, or their proxies, more likely every day...

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