No, “unity is strength” is not the prerogative of Belgium. Nexter Systems and the Emirati company Minerva Special Purpose Vehicle (MSPV), have made the motto theirs at this week’s IDEF 2017 in Istanbul, with a joint project to integrate the ARX20 remote controlled turret on an MSPV Panthera F9 armoured transport vehicle. The objective is to “demonstrate the point of integrating a light turret on a light vehicle,” explains Marc Rouelle, CEO of MSPV and a native, coincidentally or not, of Belgium.
The ARX20 has the advantage of being a “lightweight” compared to other turrets of equivalent caliber. With a total mass of just 300 kg – including ammunition – it is easily integrated onto a vast range of light armoured vehicles. “The volume of the ARX20 is actually similar to that of a 12.7mm turret while offering a much greater fire support capacity thanks to the 20mm gun, the minimum calibre for explosive ammunition,” explains Romain Le Berre, marketing director turrets for Nexter Systems. This compactness means the payload capacity of the vehicle is not altered, the ARX20 being controlled from a console in the cabin.
Nexter, after having tested the waters during IDEX 2017 in Abu Dhabi (UAE) on a Spanish URO VAMTAC light tactical vehicle, is now moving forwards by integrating the ARX20 on a range of heavier platforms. A choice that Nexter justifies by the importance of “giving commercial reach to systems in sectors where the competition is strong by using the visibility of Minerva to approach certain markets,” explains Le Berre.
For its part, MSPV intends to “be able to offer an integrated system to the customer and to draw the quality of [its] range upwards,” says Rouelle. Together, the duo now plans to tackle, amongst others, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and, IDEF host nation Turkey. The Emirati manufacturer recently inaugurated in Ankara its first Turkish production unit, proof that the local market has solid prospects.
“Minerva is keen to develop its partnership with Nexter,” Rouelle enthuses, and to propose a common solution including the ARX25 and P20 made by the French systems integrator. A crucial step, according to MSPV, will be to demonstrate the relevance of the concept during a dynamic demonstration in front of the UAE army. And then? MSPV aims to approach other key players in the defence sector, notably with the creation of a light vehicle that includes not only a Made in France turret but also an optronics suite with a C4ISR capability.