If the Scorpion programme gives pride of place to the median capacity of the French Army, it also includes upgrading the Leclerc main battle tank. This “Scorpionisation” provides for the delivery of 200 Leclerc XLR tanks and 18 Leclerc recovery vehicles (known by their French acronym DCL) between 2020 and 2028. This should allow the Leclerc to remain operational beyond 2040.
The €330m contract was logically awarded in March 2015 to its original manufacturer, Nexter Systems, said the head of the Leclerc upgrade contract for the French systems integrator. It has three main objectives: to integrate the Leclerc into the “Scorpion bubble”, adapt it for operations in urban environments, and improve its ability to attack. The first two prototypes will be delivered in 2018 and will be directly followed by the notification of production tranches.
Destined to operate in a joint tactical “Scorpion” group, the Leclerc will get new open vetronics architecture, the CONTACT radio being developed by Thales and the future Scorpion information and communication system (SICS) provided by Atos.
Conceived during the Cold War for the great plains of Eastern Europe, the Leclerc’s protection must evolve to meet today’s paradigms of urban combat. New kits of armour will allow the level of protection to be adjustable to the perceived threat. One of these kits will improve protection against Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) with, amongst other things, the integration of the BARAGE jamming system. A second kit will provide increased protection against rocket launchers, especially around the engine block.
If Nexter has no intention of touching the 120mm gun, the system manufacturer will give it a new programmable ammunition. The 120mm HE M3M shell will be able to adopt different modes depending on the tactical situation such as the “air burst” mode to detonate the munition in flight… particularly effective in urban operations or against insurgents. These attack capabilities will be increased through the addition of a remote-controlled T2 turret identical to the Jaguars’. The latter, developed by Renault Trucks Defense, will include a 7.62mm machine gun. Moreover, the weapon system will undergo a complete overhaul, with the update of the main computer systems, the addition of inertial navigation and GPS, and new man-machine interfaces similar to the Jaguar for the chief operator and gunner.
In addition to these major improvements, general maintenance of the Leclerc will also be rethought. A preventive maintenance tool will alert the crew before the vehicle’s next planned revision. The new screens for the chief operator and gunner positions will only require a software update to integrate additions of new features in the future instead of having to be entirely replaced. The crew will also benefit from a new data logging system and embedded electronic documentation.
The DCL will also be incorporated into the Scorpion bubble and will be protected at the rear with armour and have a SCORPION T1 turret with a 12.7mm machine gun.
Are you anxious to see a life size model of the Leclerc XLR? The we invite you to visit the Ministry of Defence stand at the next Eurosatory show, from 13 to 17 June 2016 in Paris.