French light vehicle programme (finally) launched

The French Army’s unprotected polyvalent light tactical vehicle (VLTP NP) programme has – finally – been launched! The call for tender, open to French and foreign firms, for “about 4,000 VLTP NPs” to replace the Peugeot P4s still in service in the French army was notified on 17 May. Originally programmed for delivery in 2014, the first vehicles should  now be delivered in 2020.

 

Des Peugeot P4 de la Légion étrangère en opération au Gabon en 2012

Foreign Legion Peugeot P4s on operation in Gabon in 2012

 

If this call for tender seems to confirm previous figures of 4,450 vehicles, there is no mention of the two tranches of 2,450 and 2,000 vehicles evoked in May 2015 by the French defence ministry.

 

The DGA French procurement agency is planning to buy two standards, the second one integrating “additional capacities compared to the standard 1 version“. Unsurprisingly the VLTP NP has to be able to drive “on road, on degraded road, track and cross-country in France (including overseas territories) and on all the external theatres of operation where France is engaged,”  according to the call for tender. It also specifies that transmission and telecommunications systems that meet military requirements be integrated and, doubtless, that the vehicle can be included in the Scorpion communication network. Finally, the vehicle must weigh between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes and be able to carry a payload of one ton, personnel included.

 

The company, or group, that wins the tender will have proven its capacity to assemble 60 vehicles a month over several years in a European country. Deliveries should thus, in theory, be spread over five and a half years at least. The DGA is also stressing after-sales service, requiring the winning bidder to “maintain the VLTP NP in operational condition for about 15 years per vehicle.” In reality, the project foresees that the upkeep and configuration management be undertaken by the winner of the contract for the vehicles’ lifespan.

 

Interested parties have until 14 June 2016 to submit their offer.

 

Even if the tender reveals few technical details about the vehicle, it is nevertheless an important step in the programme to replace the P4s, recently perturbed by the purchase of 1,000 Ford Ranger XLs, as we reported on 2 December 2015. That decision was dictated by the urgency of the situation and criticised by a number of politicians who called for a « Made in France » solution.