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France orders sights for Leclerc upgrade

The DGA has ordered sights from the GME between Nexter and Safran for the Leclerc XLR, which was displayed at Eurosatory 2022. (Janes/Sonny Butterworth)

The Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, has ordered sights from the temporary company grouping (GME) between KNDS's Nexter and Safran Electronics & Defense for the upgrade of the Leclerc main battle tank (MBT) to the XLR standard, the two companies announced in a joint press release on 8 February.

Nexter and Safran will digitise the optronic core of the Leclerc weapon system to increase data flow and provide high-quality images under all conditions. The tank's analog video system will be replaced by a digital video system.

The gunner's sight will be upgraded with latest-generation optronic sensors and new electronics, while the commander's sight will be replaced by Safran's Paseo panoramic electro-optical sight designed for observation and engagement in all conditions. A digital monocular supplied by KNDS company OPT-Sys will serve as the interface between the tank commander and the Paseo sight. The two sights can detect, identify, and target an object several kilometres away before engaging it, according to Nexter and Safran.

The Leclerc XLR has been in production since the beginning of 2023, with all upgraded tanks scheduled to be delivered by 2035.

The DGA ordered 50 Leclerc XLRs at the end of 2022, when the first prototype of the upgraded tank was also delivered to the DGA. Under the mid-life upgrade (MLU) contract awarded to Nexter in June 2021, the first 18 Leclerc XLRs were delivered to the French Army in 2023.

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