Nexter Systems will deliver 12 Aravis (4x4) highly protected vehicles to the Gabonese Republic by June 2015, under the terms of a contract awarded to the company in October 2014. They will be part of a battalion deployed by the Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), operating under a United Nations mandate.
Currently being built at the Nexter Systems facility in Roanne, France, these Aravis vehicles will be fitted with the Nexter System ARX20 remote-controlled turret (RCT) armed with a 20mm M621 cannon.
For a higher level of protection against the widely deployed RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade, they will be fitted with the PG-Guard protection system. They will also carry the Nexter Robotics Nerva unmanned ground vehicle for use in the reconnaissance role.
According to Nexter Systems, the baseline Aravis has the highest level of protection in its class against a wide range of battlefield threats, including small arms fire, mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Aravis has a high level of cross-country mobility because it is based on the Mercedes-Benz UNIMOG U-5000 (4x4) chassis.
Nexter’s first customer for the Aravis was the French Army, which from 2009 took delivery of 15 units, of which 11 were deployed to Afghanistan for use with French Army engineers using the MBDA SOUVIM 2 route-clearance system. The remaining four Aravis vehicles were retained in France for training purposes. France has now ceased combat operations in Afghanistan.
French Army Aravis vehicles are fitted with a Kongsberg remote weapon station (RWS) armed with a .50 M2 HB machine gun (MG), Thales PR4G communications equipment, an Exavision camera system to provide situational awareness through a full 360° and electronic devices to counter IEDs.
Although Nexter Systems has never confirmed the contract, it is also supplying Saudi Arabia with 200 Aravis vehicles in three batches, the first for 73 units – deliveries are underway. Some of them are fitted with the Nexter Systems ARX20 RCT.
In addition to the troop-carrying version, some specialised vehicles are being supplied to Saudi Arabia.