France’s special operations forces will have their work made slightly easier once they get the Fardier, an air-droppable, lightweight all-terrain vehicle designed to transport all the “impedimenta”: bags, reserves of food, water and ammunition that special forces personnel today have to carry with them and which can weigh upwards of 50kg a man. It basically will allow special forces to land much further away from their target than they can now by allowing them to drive to it rather than having to walk there. And they’ll be less tired when they arrive! The first call for candidates interested in developing this vehicle closed on March 15.
Publicly available documents consulted by FOB show that the Fardier will weigh somewhere between 400-600kg, while its air-droppable trailer will weigh between 200-400kg. The vehicle will be equipped with various communications systems and brackets for equipment such as infra-red and visible spectre spotlights, Defence Advanced GPS Receiver, flash lights, fire extinguishers and so on. It will have to have a diesel engine.
The industrial group chosen to build around 300 Fardiers and 200 trailers will also have to develop and supply all the tools, spares, documents, and training as well as offer an after-sales service for 10 years.
Once the contract has been attributed, the winner will have 13 years in which to deliver all the vehicles according to the official documentation. However, General Charles Beaudouin, director of the Army’s technical service, the STAT, says he wants the Fardiers delivered before 2020.
It is FOB’s understanding that a number of industrial groupings have submitted their candidacies. But their names are a tightly kept secret so we dug around to see what other countries are doing in this field and to give us a possible idea of what the Fardier may look like and which companies may possibly be interested in the French market. We’re assuming that these industrial groupings, if they involve a U.S. company for example, will include at least one French company to front the offering.
The result of our digging is that the only other nation that seems to be actively seeking a special operations air-droppable vehicle is the United States. In July 2015 the US Special Operations Command purchased 2,000 light tactical all-terrain vehicles (LTATV), (now known as “ground mobility vehicle” or GMV) from US company Polaris, of which 1,750 are the MRZR-4 and 300 the smaller MRZR-2. Could Polaris possibly have teamed up with a French company?
And then there are the six companies that were showing their GMVs at
Fort Bragg, North Carolina last summer to the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Regiment. Apart from Polaris, which was showing the DAGOR, there was Boeing with its MSI Defense Phantom Badger, Vyper Adamas showing its V3X (it intends to offer the V4X variant for the GMV), Lockheed Martin with its High Versatility Tactical Vehicle, Hendrick Dynamics with its Commando Jeep and General Dynamics was demonstrating its Flyer 72.
The contract may have appealed to small French company UNAC which already supplies the TNA tractor-leveller to the French army, but they don’t seem to have anything on their current product catalogue that looks anything like a GMV. But they do have the air-droppable know-how.
If one looks slightly further afield, the Spider Light Strike Vehicle used by the Singapore Army, designed and produced by Singapore Technologies Kinetics Ltd. could perhaps be modified to make it air-droppable as it is currently only air-transportable. This vehicle is already used by special forces in Indonesia, Greece, Israel and the United States.
A vehicle introduced onto the international market place in January 2015 and which is air-droppable is the eXV-1 designed and developed by small US company MILSPRAY in Lakewood, NJ. It weighs 453kg and can tow the same mass but doesn’t currently appear to have a trailer.
So, there are clearly a number of vehicles out there that can be adapted to the French Army’s needs. We’ll have to wait and see what the French procurement agency decides but if they are to be operational by 2020 a decision will have to be made within the next 18 months.