France Receives Four Refurbished Light Armored Vehicles

France has taken delivery of its first four refurbished light armored vehicles (VBL-R) under a 102-system contract.

The VBL-R is a French scout car combining the capabilities of a liaison vehicle and protective solutions that can withstand mines and small arms.

The arrival of systems under Paris’ latest order followed the completion of a similar 2020 contract that upgraded 247 French VBLs to its latest version, the “Ultima.”

Mobility developer Arquus is facilitating work on the remaining VBL-Rs at its Saint Nazaire facility, which will be completed by 2028.

French Light Armored Vehicles

France bought its first VBL vehicles in the 1990s to complement the army’s AMX-10 RC wheeled tanks and Jaguar armored fighting vehicles with light reconnaissance support.

By 2001, Paris commissioned a total of 1,500 VBLs into service. The country then received the final batches to finalize its planned VBL fleet of 2,600 nine years later.

Since its inception, the 4X4 system has been offered in different configurations to address the evolving requirements of the French military and partner forces.

The armored platform can use machine guns, anti-tank missiles, turret weapon stations, or short-range air defense systems depending on the model.

French Panhard VBL during Operation Aconit
A French Panhard VBL light armoured vehicle during the France-led Operation Aconit, which targeted Islamic State militants in Mali and Niger between between June 7 and 19, 2019. Image: État-major des armées

The VBL Ultima

France’s VBL Ultima is equipped with a 130-horsepower diesel engine for a maximum speed of 95 kilometers (59 miles) per hour and an operational range of up to 800 kilometers (497 miles).

Unlike its earlier iterations with amphibious functionality, the VBL-R was specially designed for ground deployment only.

The new vehicle has the capacity for up to three personnel and can carry 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of payload.

In addition, the VBL-R was developed with an anti-lock braking system, improved suspension, power steering, air conditioning, and an overprotection kit to reinforce warfighter mobility and security on the modern battlefield.

Replacement Program

In December 2023, Arquus and industry partner Nexter launched the pre-design phase of the future Armored Engagement Support Vehicle (VBAE), which will eventually replace France’s retiring VBLs.

Both companies are collaborating with mechanical engineering agency John Cockerill Defense to simultaneously produce the VBAE for the Belgian military.

Related Articles

Back to top button