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France orders 50 upgraded Leclerc tanks

The DGA awarded Nexter a mid-life upgrade contract for 50 Leclerc tanks (pictured in the foreground at Eurosatory 2022) on 29 December 2022. (Nexter)

The Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, ordered 50 upgraded Leclerc main battle tanks on 29 December 2022, the company announced in a press release on 12 January.

The first prototype of the upgraded tank, designated Leclerc XLR, was delivered to the DGA at the end of 2022. Under a mid-life upgrade (MLU) contract awarded to Nexter in June 2021, the first 18 operational Leclerc XLRs will be delivered to the French Army in 2023.

The MLU's primary aim is to integrate the Leclerc into the Scorpion collaborative combat system by equipping it with the Scorpion Combat Information System (SICS) from Atos and the Contact radio from Thales, as well as installing vectronic systems common to Scorpion vehicles. SICS and the Contact radio 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 mines, improvised explosive devices, and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as a remote weapon station with a 7.62 mm machine gun for urban combat. In addition, a fire-control system will be developed for conventionally fuzed and programmable munitions.

The Leclerc entered service in 1993, and the upgraded Leclerc XLR will remain in service until it is replaced by the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) in around 2040.

Delivery of the first 50 Leclerc XLRs will be followed by 122 more by 2029.

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