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France awards Leclerc upgrade contract to Nexter

The Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, awarded Nexter the mid-life update (MLU) contract for 200 Leclerc main battle tanks on 1 June, French Armed Forces Ministry spokesperson Hervé Grandjean announced at the ministry's weekly briefing on 24 June.

The DGA awarded Nexter the MLU contract for 200 Leclerc MBTs on 1 June. (Nexter)

The DGA awarded Nexter the MLU contract for 200 Leclerc MBTs on 1 June. (Nexter)

The Leclerc entered service in 1993, and the upgraded Leclerc XLR will serve until it is replaced by the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) in about 2040. The first refurbished tanks will be delivered in 2022, with 50 to be delivered in 2024 and 122 to be upgraded in 2025 and the programme expected to be completed in 2028. The MLU design contract was awarded to Nexter in March 2015.

The MLU includes the integration of the Leclerc into the Scorpion system, the French Army's digital network, and equipping it with the SICS combat information system from Atos and the Contact radio from Thales. This will allow voice and data to be exchanged simultaneously among network subscribers, vehicles (including Griffon, Jaguar, and VBL armoured vehicles), dismounted soldiers, and eventually Tigre (Tiger) Mk3 attack helicopters.

The Leclerc XLR will also feature better protection against improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as an FN Herstal 50-cal remote weapon system (RWS). The MLU will also deal with obsolescence issues, for example the fire-control computer authorising the use of new 120 mm ammunition that is yet to be detailed and retaining the capability of the moving tank to hit static or mobile targets.

There are 17 Leclerc DCL armoured recovery vehicles (ARVs) also being upgraded, including the integration of a 50-cal RWS.

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