Arquus unveiled the Scarabee, the company’s latest light tactical vehicle, to a select audience at Eurosatory 2018 but said little about the design or its progress until showing a handful of reporters the sole Scarabee prototype during an event in late May 2019.
Development work on Scarabee began in April 2017, with work on the prototype’s build commencing a year later. It was disclosed at the Eurosatory unveiling that a clear target for the design was the French Army’s developing VBAE (Véhicule Blindé d’Aide à l’Engagement) requirement that is intended to replace the Panhard VBL (Véhicules Blindés Légers). Panhard, a legacy brand of Arquus, delivered about 1,600 VBLs to French armed forces between 1990 and 2010.
There are no official figures available yet, but estimates for the possible VBAE requirement range from 800 to 2,000 platforms. This would be a highly competitive programme that could ultimately be valued at EUR2 billion (USD2.3 billion).
Arquus officials told Jane’s that, since its unveiling, a dedicated team of six engineers has been focusing on the mobility, handling/behaviour, and hybrid aspects of the design. Testing has included about 2,000 km of mixed terrain usage. Officials told Jane’s that no significant changes to the original design are currently planned and, at the current pace, Scarabee could be production-ready in less than three years.
The tentative timeline suggests that technology demonstrators would be available by the end of 2022, with the first production vehicles ready in 2025. When France’s DGA (Direction Générale de l'Armement) issues the VBAE technology demonstration requirements, it is widely anticipated these will mandate some form of silent running/silent watch capability and may intimate a desire for an autonomous capability. To accommodate the former, Scarabee was designed with hybridisation built-in, the project benefiting from work already carried out by Arquus on the VAB Mk3 Electer.
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