The replacement of Light Armored Vehicles, or LAVs, is today at the top of the list of programs to be launched urgently for the French Army. Designed in the 1980s by the Panhard General Defense company (integrated into Arquus when the brand was created in 2018), the VBL has been part of all French engagements since its entry into service in 1990. Despite its undeniable qualities, particularly in terms of mobility and scalability, the vehicle having been available in 13 versions including 7 in service in the French armies, it now marks the weight of the years in the face of tougher commitments, but also in the face of Improvised Explosive Devices used by Islamist fighters in Mali For example. 5 French soldiers lost their lives in 2020 and 2021 aboard LAVs destroyed by an IED. In addition, the vehicle is not suitable for integrating the new cooperative engagement equipment of the SCORPION program at the heart of the evolution of the Army .
To replace it, the French General Staff prepared to launch the VBAE program, for Armored Vehicle of Assistance to Engagement, as its name indicates a (light) armored vehicle integrated into this SCORPION information bubble, and providing strong added value through its mobility to recognize and identify critical battlefield information. Initially, the program was to be launched during the next Military Programming Law in 2026, but the needs of the Army are so urgent, in particular to be able to constitute units ready for engagement as quickly as possible. of High Intensity, that this was partly integrated into the current LPM, to the detriment of part of the deliveries of VBMR Griffon, Serval and EBRC Jaguar , so as to free up the required budgetary and industrial capacities.
What's more, two French manufacturers, Arquus and Thales, have anticipated for several years the ongoing developments and the need that is pressing the Army today. the Franco-Swedish Arquus thus developed the Scarabée , a high-end light armored vehicle derived from the Combat Reconnaissance Armored Buggy, or CRAB, program, which caused a sensation during the Eurosatory show in 2012. With an empty mass of 7 tonnes for a With a combat mass of 9 tonnes, the Scarabée integrates all the capabilities necessary for cooperative engagement, as well as extraordinary mobility with a power-to-weight ratio of 38 HP per tonne. Thales, for its part, developed the Hawkei, an armored vehicle weighing 7 tonnes empty and 10 tonnes maximum in combat, initially designed for the Australian Armed Forces which ordered 1,100 examples.
However, the Ministry of the Armed Forces and the DGA have favored European cooperation in this matter, by launching in 2020 the European Future Highly Mobile Augmented Armored Systems , or FAMOUS, a clearly misleading acronym for a program which does not is not less. The objective of FAMOUS is to develop the technological bricks necessary for the VBAE program in a cooperation bringing together the French Nexter, its partner within KNDS the German Krauss Maffei Wegman, the Finnish Patria and the Belgian John Cockerill Defense, as well as 15 others European manufacturers, so as to “ optimize synergies, standardization and interoperability in the field of armored land vehicles ” according to Joel Barre. By doing so, the program is integrated into the European EDIDP financing system.
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