France has taken delivery of its first Poids Lourds Force Spéciale (PLFS - Heavy Special Forces Vehicle), the French defence procurement agency (the DGA) announced.
The vehicle is the first of 202 ordered from Renault Trucks Defence (RTD) in January 2016, together with 242 Véhicule Léger des Forces Spéciales (VLFS - Special Force Light Vehicle) - a highly ambitious programme for France's special forces.
The Commandement des Opérations Spéciales (COS - Special Forces Command), which groups together French special forces units from the army, air force, and navy, is receiving a first batch of 25 PLFS as an initial capability. Deliveries of the second batch of 172 vehicles are not expected to begin until January 2019, concluding in December 2021.
In order to meet the urgent needs of French special forces operating in the Sahel Region, the DGA and RTD opted for an incremental development programme, with two different standards of the PLFS. The first batch of 25 are of an initial 'Standard 1' configuration that was developed within 13 months. The 'Standard 2' configuration is still under development. It is possible that the initial 25 Standard 1 vehicles could later be upgraded to the new standard, although a decision has yet to be made on this.
The PLFS is largely based on the Sherpa Light Forces Speciales truck, although RTD is quick to point out that several hundreds of modifications had to be implemented in order to comply with the official requirement and the results of the Sherpa's operational testing. The most notable changes though are that the PLFS is lighter than the original Sherpa and has a stronger engine.
The Standard 1 PLFS will be fitted with two radios, one 12.7x99 mm (.50 cal) machine gun (MG) and two 7.62x51 mm MGs. The Standard 2 version is expected to feature improved endurance and much improved payload, including carrying up to seven radios and the capacity to fire heavier weapons.
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