The French DGA Procurement Agency yesterday ordered a first tranche of 319 Griffons and 20 Jaguars from the Nexter-Renault Trucks Defense-Thales trio in charge of the Scorpion programme to modernise the major equipment of the French Army.
“During the development phase, the Griffon-Jaguar workload plan represents close to 1,000 highly skilled direct jobs; there will be more than 1,700 direct jobs when full production is launched in 2020,” the Defence Ministry said in an official statement. This first order also includes the associated logistical support and training systems. Delivery of the first vehicles is expected in 2018 for the Griffon and in 2020 for the Jaguar.
Launched in 2014 by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, the Scorpion programme aims to replace a whole generation of vehicles now at the end of the line after 40 years of good and loyal services. Both the VAB family, to be replaced by the Griffon, and the AMX-10RC and ERC-90 Sagaie, are seeing their availability rate decline year after year, while the costs of maintaining them in operational condition are exploding. A situation the Army would like to remedy by accelerating the rate of deliveries of the Griffons and Jaguars, said General Jean-Pierre Bosser, Chief of Staff of the Army, on October 19, 2016.
A rise in pace that French industry has said it can meet because even if the stages of qualification and ramp-up cannot be neglected, “we can double the speed of production from 2020 or 2021 so that what was to be delivered by 2033 is actually available from 2026,” declared Nexter President and CEO Stéphane Mayer in November 2016 to the French parliament. Nevertheless, a decision will have to await both the result of the French presidential election and the arrival of a new tenant at the Hotel de Brienne [defence ministry].
The Griffon multi-role armoured vehicles (VBMR), of which 1,668 should be ordered, is a 6 × 6 25-tonne vehicle equipped with a remote controlled turret armed with a 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun. In addition to troop transport, PC, artillery and medical evacuation versions, the Army is studying the acquisition of about 50 Griffons in a MEPAC (Embedded Mortar for Contact Support) version, equipped with the 120mm R2M2 mortar developed by Thales and unveiled at Eurosatory 2016.
The Jaguar, of which 248 should be ordered by the Army, is a reconnaissance and combat armoured reconnaissance vehicle (EBRC) also in the 25-tonne class. It will be equipped with the 40mm 40 CTAS gun designed by Nexter in cooperation with BAE Systems, with two pods to accommodate the MBDA MMP anti-tank missile, and a 7.62mm machine-gun mounted on a remotely operated turret.