The French Ministry of Defense received the first three lightweight VBMR Griffon Multi-role Armored Vehicles.
In recent years, France is conducting a program of developing infantry weapons that is considered to be Europe’s most ambitious to provide new armored vehicles to the army. Since 2014, French contractors including Nexter, RTD and Thales have begun developing two new armored vehicles for the army, under a contract worth nearly $930 million, ordered from the French Ministry of Defense. Accordingly, Nexter will develop the chassis, RTD is responsible for the engine and transmission and Thales takes care of communication and electronics.
The two new armored vehicles are the six-wheeled Multi-role Armored Vehicle called the VBMR Griffon and the six-wheeled Armored Reconnaissance and Combat Vehicle named EMRC Jaguar. The development of Griffon and Jaguar marked the start of the Scorpion program to modernize France’s military equipment, which was considered Europe’s largest infantry weapons production program. In preparation for the launch of the Scorpion, the French government has invested $259 million in feasibility studies and cooperation with the weapons industry since 2010.
The new generation 6 × 6 Griffon armored vehicle is being ordered by the French Directorate General of Armaments to replace the 4 x 4 VAB armored personnel carriers, which has been operating with the French army since 1976. Currently, six versions of the Griffon are planned for production, four of these, including Armored Personnel Carrier, Command Post, Ambulance, and Artillery Observer, are ordered in the first tranche. After 2021 a much lighter 4 × 4 version might be ordered, which will be used as a reconnaissance vehicle. Just recently, the French Ministry of Defense received the first three VBMR light armored vehicles. The official ceremony of putting new armored vehicles into use took place on July 4, 2019 at the Nexter factory in the presence of French Defence Minister Florence Parly.
The design of the VBMR Griffon is based on a 6 × 6 all-terrain truck chassis, which is known that each vehicle costs approximately less than 1 million Euros each. The Griffon has a modular architecture with a maximum weight of 24 tons, it is controlled by a crew of two, the driver and the gunner, it can accommodate up to eight soldiers. The layout of the vehicle is conventional with the engine compartment located at the front, the crew cabin in the middle and the rear is troop compartment. The two-man crew is protected by bulletproof windshield, two side windows are also bulletproof. In the troop compartment section, small bulletproof windows are arranged along the sides of the vehicle. Soldiers enter and exit the vehicle through a large rear door. Two firing ports are provided on rooftop hatches of the troop compartment for use by the infantry. The vehicle has an overpressure system to maintain constant protection to the troop compartment against chemical, biological and radiological threats. For service in hot climates, the Griffon is equipped with air conditioning.
Designed in accordance with high levels of NATO STANAG standard, the Griffon VBMR offers improved protection over VAB. It can withstand small arms fire, shell splinters, improvised explosive device and mine blasts. Overall, the Griffon has a width of 2.5m and a height of 3m. This 2.5 ton armored vehicle is powered by a 400 horsepower engine. According to the manufacturer, both Griffon and Jaguar use standard commercial truck engines, which have been adapted to use a wider range of fuel. The vehicle can reach a maximum speed of 110 km/h on flat roads, range can reach up to 800 km.
The Griffon is equipped with a remote weapons station that can be armed with either a 12.7mm or 7.62mm machine gun, or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher. The addition of two Missile Moyenne Portée anti-tank guided missiles is optional. Eight launchers for smoke grenades are fitted to the remote weapon station, which also includes an acoustic sniper localisation system.
As expected, by the end of this year, the French Armed Forces will receive 92 VBMR Griffon vehicles, the first batch will be put into service at the 3rd Marine Corps Regiment. According to some sources, by 2030, the French Army will be provided with 1872 VBMR Griffin versatile armored vehicles, 300 EBRC Yaguar armored reconnaissance vehicles and many other advanced unmanned equipment.
The delivery of the first Griffon Multi-role Armored Vehicles was an important milestone in the history of the Scorpion program. The new wheeled vehicles were an important part of the Scorpion program, expanding the range and capacity of the French ground forces.