The 17th Parachute Engineer Regiment (17e Régiment de Génie Parachutiste, 17e RGP,), based in Montauban, just north of Toulouse in south-western France, recently took delivery of a somewhat peculiar piece of equipment. The TNA, the French acronym for an air-droppable tractor-leveller, is an extremely compact tracked vehicle that can be air-dropped with its drivers. Officially delivered to the only airborne engineer unit of the French Army in December 2015, the TNA will be joined by five others within 12 months.
Supplied by French company UNAC, based in Vergèze, the TNA was procured as an urgent requirement arising from France’s increased involvement on foreign theatres of operation. Deployed in Mali, the 17e RGP very quickly repaired landing strips to enable more troops and materiel to arrive in the central African country.
The result of a collaboration between the company, the 17e RGP and the technical section of the army, the TNA was developed in three years and integrates high-tech materials to lighten its mass and give it a very high resistance to tough landings. The chassis is made of a highly elastic steel while a high resistance aluminium alloy gives it its exceptional weight/resistance ratio.
The TNA’s cabin, developed by French company Sarrazin, is entirely removable in order to diminish the vehicle’s overall size. The TNA can undertake a broad range of missions from preparing and improving airport surfaces, to the opening and development of access routes via the creation of basic protections.
The first test air-drop with the TNA was successfully achieved on 2 July 2015. Dropped from an altitude of 400m, the vehicle landed in good contion thanks to its five parachutes and thus enabled the DGA French procurement agency to validate the vehicle’s aptitude to be air-dropped. The TNA can also be air-dropped from a C-130 Hercules and an A400M. It can also be transported by heavy helicopters such as the CH-53 Super Stallion or the CH-47 Chinook.
Weighing 6.5 tonnes, the TNA has a top speed of 11kph thanks to its Caterpillar C4.4 100HP engine. Designed to operate in a hostile environment, the TNA can be equipped with a removable armoured kit to protect the cabin and an anti-mine kit, both meeting STANAG 4569 level 2 requirements. Each kit can be mounted or dismounted in an hour.
Power, lightness and flexibility are the key words of this new vehicle which ecompasses the 17e RGP’s moto : “engineer I am, paratrooper I remain”.