The first roadworthy prototypes of the French Army's new 4×4 Vehicule Blinde Multi-Role - Light (VBMR-L) Serval armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) are now undergoing performance trials and more prototypes are slated for delivery later this year, according to Matthew Kirk, defence marketing manager at Texelis.
Following a competition, the Direction Generale de l'Armement (DGA) selected Nexter Systems and Texelis for the VBMR-L programme, subject to an intercompany contract signed in February 2017, followed by a formal contract in February 2018. Under this deal, DGA pays Nexter Systems and Texelis each for their work on Serval.
Originally, Texelis's Limoges facility was to send a complete running chassis to the Nexter Systems Roanne facility. The chassis was then to be fitted with a welded monocoque hull and integrated with all sub-systems, and then delivered to the French Army.
However, due to "the challenging timescales required by our customer, Texelis will now deliver Nexter Systems a specific kit for each Serval vehicle, which will include the necessary mobility sub-systems for that particular variant", Kirk said. All of the mobility elements will be provided by Texelis - including the engine, transmission, transfer case, protected fuel tanks, and electrics such as alternator, steering, and automatic pre-heater for the engine.
Serval will have a combat weight of 17 tonnes and, in addition to its crew of two, will carry eight dismounts. One of the dismounts will operate the roof-mounted remote weapon station (RWS) armed with a stabilised machine gun (MG). One of the Serval's four roof hatches can host a pintle-mounted MG to cover the vehicle's rear arc.
The Serval is 6.5 m long, 2.5 m wide, and 2.5 m high to the top of the hull. It is to be fitted with a modular add-on armour system.
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