France to receive modified VBCIs, inducts last of 630 vehicles

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Victor Barreira, Istanbul - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
24 March 2015


A first view of the French Army's 32-tonne VBCI. The DGA has so far contracted for the modification of 95 29-tonne VBCIs to this up-armoured 32-tonne standard. Source: DGA Techniques Terrestres

The French Army is scheduled to receive the first three of 95 up-armoured VBCI (Véhicule Blindé de Combat d'Infanterie) 8x8 armoured vehicles next month. The vehicles will be 29-tonne VCI (Véhicule de Combat d'Infanterie) infantry fighting vehicle variants modified to a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 32 tonnes with improved protection against improvised explosive devices.

A contract for the development of the VCI configuration was awarded in December 2010 by the French Direction Générale de l´Armement (DGA) arms procurement agency to the vehicle's manufacturers, Nexter Systems and Renault Trucks Defense, with contracts for the modification placed in June 2013 for a first batch of 48 vehicles and in September 2014 for another batch of 47 vehicles.

Qualification of the prototype by the DGA was declared on 24 September 2014. Deliveries will be completed in June 2017, although further VCIs are expected to be modified.

The order for 630 VBCIs originally purchased to replace the French Army's AMX-10P tracked vehicles was recently completed with delivery of the last vehicle on 13 March, the DGA has told IHS Jane's . The programme was concluded with delivery of the last of 520 VCI variants; 110 VPC (Véhicule Poste de Commandement) command post variants were inducted up to mid-2013. The first VBCI was delivered in 2008.


The VBCI has been deployed to Afghanistan and Lebanon in 2010, to Mali in early 2013, and to the Central African Republic in 2014. (Victor Barreira)


The VCI variant (which itself comes in two configurations: the Rang infantry-carrying version and the Eryx anti-armour missile version) features Nexter Systems' Tarask turret armed with a 25 mm 25M811 automatic cannon, while the VPC variant is fitted out with the Airbus DS SIR (Système d'Information Régimentaire) information system and FN Herstal ARROWS 300 (Advanced Reconnaissance & Remotely Operated Weapon System) remote weapon station.

The VBCIs are also being fitted with an integration kit to work with the Sagem FELIN (Fantassin à Équipement et Liaisons Intégrés) soldier system, with work scheduled to be complete by late 2015.

As part of the French Army's SCORPION (Synergie du COntact Renforcé par la Polyvalence et l'InfovalorisatiON) modernisation programme, a mid-life update of the VBCI is expected in due course with the aim of improving the vehicle's existing functions, integrating new functions and new technologies, and managing any potential future obsolescence issues. Current plans include integrating an anti-tank missile capability into the Tarask turret, along with adding the SICS (Système d'Information et de Combat SCORPION) information system, CONTACT (COmmunications Numérisées TACtiques et de ThéâtrE) tactical communications system, enhanced optronics, vetronics, and new ammunition.
France to receive modified VBCIs, inducts last of 630 vehicles - IHS Jane's 360
 
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