efinitely both current hot spots have little to do in terms of dimensions and terrain with the areas of operation in which the western military operated for over a decade since early 2000. Training, equipment, TTPs (Tactics, Techniques & Procedures), are all affected by potential news scenarios, and trying to anticipate what might be needed for the next mission is a difficult game; an abused sentence in the military being that “all wars have been fought with the equipment needed in the previous one”. Looking at vehicles this has often been true even in most recent operations: MRAPs developed for the Iraqi scenario were fully ready for the Afghan deployment, where they proved to be unable to provide sufficient mobility in a mountainous terrain, leading to the development of lighter MRAPs with independent suspension. And this is only one example. This article does not want to elaborate on which vehicle can be optimal for the still unknown future mission, we still lack the crystal ball, however it is interesting to see which are the trends in the design and acquisition of armoured vehicles within the European armies first, as well as in the other areas of the world. The debate between tracks and wheels is still alive, and will probably never end. It is however clear that many European armies are increasing the number of units equipped with armoured wheeled vehicles, APCs or IFVs, some of them getting rid of tracks, other maintaining a mix of the two. We can already disclose some of the themes that will be on show at Eurosatory 2016, and many of those are wheel-related. France, Italy, Denmark, Spain and Turkey, among others, are developing, acquiring or fielding new 8x8 or 6x6 platforms, with different purposes. The wheels breakthrough With the launch of the Scorpion programme in late 2014 France started a deep transformation of its army, which will go beyond the acquisition of new vehicles. In fact the programme has three main pillars; one is, of
The SICS combat information system is one of the three pillars of the French Army Scorpion programme and will allow cooperative protection among vehicles. The Leclerc MBT and the VBCI will also be equipped with the SICS in due time. (Atos)
course, linked to the production of two brand new vehicles, the Griffon 6x6 APC and the Jaguar 6x6 armed reconnaissance vehicle, which will soon be joined by a third lighter one, the two other being the SICS (Système d’Information du Combat Scorpion) C2 system and the SEMBA embedded simulation system. The GME Scorpion is formed by three companies, Nexter, Renault Trucks Defence and Thales, the programme involving a number of other SMEs. The SICS will constitute the digital architecture of the combat elements of the French Armée de Terre, from the regimental level down. Developed by Bull, recently acquired by Atos, the SICS is not a hierarchy-based software system, like the five C2 systems it will replace, but is a social network-like system that allows to easily create groups of interest like Facebook or Whatsapp. The SICS will not be limited to the Griffon and Jaguar, but will also be installed on Leclerc MBTs, their upgrade being part of Scorpion Tranche 1, as well as of the VBCI upgrade, planned for the Phase 2 of the programme. Let us, however, focus our attention to the two new vehicles that will soon joint the French Army. The Griffon aims at replacing the VAB (Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé), some of which were upgraded to face the needs of the Afghan theatre but which is becoming obsolete, at least in the versions in service with the French Army. The new 6x6 will be produced in six variants, in fact 10 as the armoured personnel carrier has four sub-variants, the other being engineer, command post, artillery observation, ambulance and NBC reconnaissance. The Griffon features a good modularity, so the vehicle will be fitted with specialised kits to be converted for the desired mission; however not all the kits will be acquired from the beginning, which will allow to buy later upgraded kits, and eventually to upgrade kits without the need of redesigning the entire vehicle. The first production contract for 318 vehicles is awaited next year; Scorpion Phase 1, which will last until 2023, will include 780 Griffon, the total number at the end of Phase 2, in 2035, being 1720. In fact 54 Griffon, known as MEPAC (Mortier Embarqué Pour l’Appui au Contact) armed with an 81 mm mortar, will be financed by a separate contract. The Griffon is a much heavier vehicle than the VAB, so the 6x6 configuration was a must also to ensure optimal mobility. The vehicle is fitted with a Renault MDE8 diesel engine providing 400 hp at 2.200 rpm fitted to an automatic transmission, which means 16.3 hp/tonne considering a combat weight of 24.5 tonne. All the Griffon versions will be equipped with the same independent hydro-mechanical suspensions with double hydrauic damper developed by Quiri, the same company that is producing the VBCI suspensions. Lessons learned with the VBCI have been taken into consideration, although the off-road profile is less demanding in the Griffon compared to that of the 8x8 vehicle, dimensioning having considered this data. To keep the turning radius as limited as possible the third axle is counterbracking. No details are being provided on proEDR - Eurosatory 2016 Supplement
In this special Eurosatory 2016 supplement, Paolo Valpolini discusses both wheeled and tracked armoured vehicles.