Arquus are due to deliver the first Panhard General Defense upgraded Véhicule Blindé Léger (VBL) scout cars to the French Army in the second half of 2019.
Arquus was formed in mid-2018 by ACMAT, Panhard General Defense, and Renault Trucks Defense. The VBL production remains at the Marolles-en-Hurepoix facility where the platform was originally produced.
France’s Direction Générale de l’Armament (DGA) awarded Arquus a contract in 2017 following extensive trials with the VBL System Demonstrator and pre-production vehicles called the VBL Ultima, which were carried out over two years.
The VBL upgrade includes replacing the original 95 hp diesel engine with a new 130 hp diesel engine as well as adding a new anti-skid braking system and upgraded front and rear suspension systems.
Current VBLs have a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 4,400 kg and the upgraded VBL will weigh around 5,100 kg and lose its amphibious capability.
The upgraded VBL will also be fitted with the French Army’s Scorpion Combat Information System (SICS) and in the future with the Thales Contact radio – the vehicle-based model has very high frequency (VHF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF) bands and will be standard equipment throughout the French Army.
A standard French Army VBL fitted with a protected weapon station armed with a 12.7 mm M2 HB machine gun. (Arquus)
The French Army received a total of 1,621 VBLs and final deliveries were in 2010. Under current plans 800 are expected to be upgraded to extend its life through to 2030.
More than 650 VBLs were built for the export market and Arquus will offer this upgrade to VBL customers.