Arquus signs contract to provide armoured vehicles to French and Belgian armies by 2030

The consortium between Arquus and Nexter, a company of KNDS, and the Organisation for Joint Armaments Co-operation (OCCAR) have recently signed the pre-design contract for an armoured vehicle – VBAE (Véhicule Blindé d’Aide à l’Engagement).

OCCAR, the European intergovernmental procurement agency responsible for cooperative defence contract management, has been entrusted with setting up and managing the programme. This signing marks the first step towards converging of the operational requirements and architecture of this future armoured vehicle, Arquus said in a statement. The development and production are expected within the French and Belgian armies as of 2030.

The VBAE is the result of a close collaboration between OCCAR and the customer nations in order to replace, for France, the VBL (Light Armoured Vehicle) which has been in service within the French forces since the late 1980s.

For Belgium, the VBAE represents an additional step in the development of its motorised capacity by reinforcing its reconnaissance and command and control capabilities, Arquus said.

The VBAE will be a versatile system suitable for many types of missions. A strong emphasis will be place on essential performances of mobility, stealth, protection, and fire function. It will combine compactness and optimised payload capacity, the armoured vehicle specialist said.

The project’s realisation will be ensured by the Consortium consisting of the lead contractor Arquus and its co-contractor Nexter, which will subcontract some of its activities to the Belgian company John Cockerill Defence (JCD). This partnership, initiated from the pre-design phase, marks the desire for Franco-Belgian industrial cooperation on a major armaments programme.

According to the company, the VBAE programme is perfectly consistent with the FAMOUS project sustained by European Defence Fund (EDF) financed by the European Commission. FAMOUS (Future highly mobile Augmented ArMOUred Systems) covers the development of innovative technological blocks common to future European armoured vehicles. Arquus, Nexter, and JCD are major partners in this FAMOUS project.

SHERPA assembly line, Arquus Limoges Centre of excellence

The launch of the VBAE project marks the advent of an ambitious and innovative cooperation. The Arquus, Nexter and JCD teams are fully committed and confident in the success of this project.

This is just the latest development which demonstrates Arquus’s propensity for collaboration. In December 2023, it released a statement detailing its “strong bilateral relationships”, developed with its partners to offer complete vehicle manufacturing based on client expectations. In industrial cooperation, Arquus’s added value is to support local teams by providing them with skills and technology transfers to produce and maintain their vehicle fleets.

This type of partnership has already proven successful with iconic vehicles from the Arquus range, such as the SHERPA and the VAB. For example, in Indonesia, Arquus and PT Pindad have combined their technical expertise over the past ten years. Arquus has provided major mobility parts or components, such as powertrain groups or rolling chassis, for the local manufacturing of a 4×4 armoured vehicle.

Photo: Arquus VAB

The VAB: A vehicle ready for any challenge

The VAB is an iconic vehicle in the Arquus range and has been extensively tested in operation theatres worldwide. For over 40 years, the VAB has proven its ability to perform various missions, from troop transport to fire support, complemented by the latest generation systems. This versatile vehicle offers top-level performance in terms of mobility, protection, and carrying capacity.

The VAB is a prime example of industrial cooperation, Arquus said. It has already collaborated with a Middle Eastern country to modernise an entire fleet of this vehicle. The deployment of such a project adapts perfectly to geographical requirements and establishes a true customer relationship, including local partners. The VABs in the Middle East have received performance improvements in the powertrain, braking capabilities, and steering components. Local partners also receive support, such as obsolescence management, upgrading spare parts stocks, training, and maintenance.

With all these services, the vehicles maintain enhanced performance, perfectly adapted to various tension situations, considering geographical, financial, or geopolitical challenges. Arquus covers the entire tactical segment of wheeled armoured vehicles, and all its platforms can integrate equipment and mission systems developed internally or by its partners.

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Top image credit: Arquus

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