France’s elite gendarmerie special force, the GIGN (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) has recently taken delivery of an unknown number of new 4×4 Fortress Intervention armoured vehicles made by Centigon, the Britanny-based armour specialist. The new delivery highlights “the importance of such a tool in the fight against terrorism and more particularly in the current context“, Colonel Laurent Phélip, commander of the GIGN, is quoted as saying in a Centigon press release.
The Fortress Intervention will not only equip the GIGN but also the six “AGIGN” antennae* (ex-PI2G) present in metropolitan France. These “versatile and stealthy” fast response vehicles will allow “quick and simultaneous deployment to several places“, adds the GIGN on its Facebook page.
Confronted with a tougher threat, the GIGN is not limiting its shopping list to vehicles. Since last July it has acquired new reconnaissance systems, tracking systems and night vision binoculars, 75% financed by the European Internal Security Fund (ISF). This fund, with a budget of €3.8bn for the 2014-2020 period (of which €32m is for France), is composed of two instruments, ISF Borders and Visa, and ISF Police. One of its two specific objectives is “enhancing the capacity of EU States and the Union for managing effectively security-related risks and crisis, and preparing for protecting people and critical infrastructure against terrorist attacks and other security related incidents,” according to the European Commission. The second objective is “combating cross-border, serious and organised crime including terrorism…”
A ruggedised version of the Toyota Land Cruiser 200, the Fortress Intervention can carry up to six operators protected by a level 2 (NATO standard) shield capable, for example, of providing protection from an AK-47 at a distance of 30m. The vehicle also has a riposte hatch located on the roof of the vehicle, a “run flat” system for driving with a punctured tyre and shielded windows made of multi-layered glass and polycarbonate.
Equipped with either a petrol (5.7L, 4.6L) or diesel (4.5L) engine, the Fortress Intervention has a top speed of 150 kph and a maximum range of 800km. These armoured 4x4s join a fleet partly composed of Chevrolet SWATECs and the Renault Trucks Defense Sherpa Light assault vehicles.
* Toulouse, Orange, Dijon, Nantes, Reims and Tours.