The EBMR consortium, consisting of Nexter, Arquus and Thales, presented the 128th VBMR Griffon multi-role armored vehicle planned for 2020 to the French defense procurement agency, DGA, on Dec. 18.
Under the terms of the French Army SCORPION program, and despite an unprecedented health crisis that profoundly affected production, the three manufacturers were able to take the challenge and meet their contractual objectives.
After this step, the last GRIFFONs will have to be submitted to the verification operations carried out by the DGA’s quality department. The vehicles will then be transported to the Canjuers site where the Army will proceed to take them into account; it is then that the DGA will formally receive them. To date, 90 GRIFFON have completed this route, adding to the 92 GRIFFON delivered in 2019. From January 2021, the last vehicles that left the production line in December will join them in the regiments, catching up very early in 2021 with the delay due to the health crisis.
From March 2020, Covid-19 has indeed strongly disrupted the industrial organization of the program. The site of Roanne, where the GRIFFON and JAGUAR are assembled, was forced to suspend its activity from March 20 to 30 in order to allow the installation of a structure adapted to the resumption of the activity under maximum safety conditions.
Since then, two teams have been working on the lines in shifts of eight consecutive hours (2×8) to ensure that the lines are operational during these 16-hour days. Closely linked to their government contacts and after consulting their suppliers, the members of the GME quickly reviewed the initial schedule: the 2020 objectives were maintained for GRIFFON; the first deliveries of JAGUAR were postponed to April 2021; and this, while preserving the amount of deliveries at the end of 2021.
The year 2020 was marked by the passage of several major milestones for the GME. In September, the DGA notified the third conditional tranche of the EBMR contract, enabling the second batch of vehicles (271 GRIFFON and 42 JAGUAR by 2023) to go into production. In November, the GRIFFON command post vehicle (EPC) was qualified. Thus, among the 128 GRIFFONs of 2020, 35 examples of this new variant were presented to the administration, an additional difficulty that the EPC teams overcame. Finally, the new-generation T1 remotely operated turret that will arm the GRIFFONs was also qualified by the DGA.
VBMR Griffon is a multi-role armored vehicle (Véhicule Blindé Multi-Rôle, VBMR) being developed for the French Army under the EBMR Scorpion (Engin Blindé Multi-Rôle, Armoured Multi-roles Vehicles) program along with the EBRC Jaguar reconnaissance and combat vehicle (Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance et de Combat, EBRC).
The two vehicles share 70% of its components and are being developed by a consortium of Nexter, Thales, and Renault Trucks Defense (now Arquus) in partnership with French defense procurement agency DGA (Direction générale de l’armement, “Directorate General of Armaments”).
VBMR Griffon is based on a 6×6 commercial all-terrain truck chassis and can carry up to eight infantry soldiers. It will replace the French Army’s aging fleet of VAB (Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé) 4×4 armored personnel carriers, which have been operational since 1976.
The Griffon is equipped with a remote weapons station that can be armed with either a 12.7mm or 7.62mm machine gun, or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher. The addition of two MMP anti-tank guided missiles is optional. Eight launchers for smoke grenades are fitted to the remote weapon station, which also includes an acoustic sniper localization system.
The vehicle has an overpressure system to maintain constant over-pressure in the troop compartment against chemical, biological and radiological threats. For service in hot climates, the Griffon is equipped with air conditioning.
Currently, six versions of the Griffon are planned, with four of these (Armored Personnel Carrier, Command Post, Ambulance, and Artillery Observer) ordered in the first tranche. Last year, Nexter and another company, Texelis was awarded a contract to deliver a 4×4 version of VBMR Griffon, called Lightweight VBMR, to the French Army.
Belgium has ordered 60 EBRC Jaguar and 382 VBMR Griffon armored vehicles. The new vehicles will replace the Belgian Army’s Piranha IIIC armored personnel carriers, Pandur I reconnaissance vehicles and Dingo 2 infantry mobility vehicles, and will enter service between 2025 and 2030.