French troops deployed to Afghanistan will be issued by BAE Systems RG31 mine resistant armoured vehicles (MRAP) taken from US military stocks.
The French ADIT
research agency says the French military will likely take 40 of the South African-designed vehicles to escort their Buffalo explosive ordnance disposal vehicles.
The vehicle is being used as an interim platform while the French Nexter armoured vehicle company brings its Aravis
MRAP to production.
Nexter launched the Aravis at the Eurosatory defence exhibition in Paris last June. The vehicle is described as a 12 metric ton 4×4 built on a commercial Mercedes Unimog chassis.
Nexter CEO Luc Vigneron has said the Aravis will be priced slightly below current products in the market but offer higher protection.
The company says the vehicle`s “Safepro” armour technology “outclasses that of all [other] existing 4×4 vehicles”.
Nexter describes the protection level as 4-4-4: Stanag 4569 Level 4 ballistic protection (able to defeat 14.5-mm threats), Level 4 mine protection (able to defeat ten-kg mines under the belly and wheels) and all-round Level 4 protection against 155-mm artillery shell splinters.
Additionally, the Aravis is reportedly able to withstand a blast equivalent to 50kg of TNT at five metres.
adds that the vehicle incorporates modular appliqué armour with “anti-blast device”, V-shaped anti-mine plates and a spall liner within the crew citadel. The Aravis has 9.5 cubic metres of internal volume, of which eight cubic metres are under armour. It can carry a driver, commander and up to six passengers with their equipment.
An ADIT researcher says French orders for Aravis will depend on the length of the French mission in Afghanistan. He adds that France, despite its extensive peacekeeping, counterinsurgency and out-of-area intervention experience does not see a need for MRAP vehicles beyond their utility in Afghanistan.
The researcher adds French Ministry of Defence officials have spoken of a potential Aravis order of 15 vehicles worth €15 million in coming months, adding that talk was that 10 of these would be sent to Afghanistan by the end of the year.
Two pre-production vehicles have been built and there is some potential for export.
The US last year offered France up to 100 RG31 Mk5 Category 2 MRAPs. A French team went to the US to study the offer in late November. The researcher adds there is a possibility that the RG-31s will receive
Norwegian Kongsberg M151 Protector turrets, already fitted on some RG31s and ordered for 60 French VAB armoured personnel carriers. They will be delivered from this year.
The US has about 800 RG31s in Afghanistan. BAE Systems has to date delivered about 1200 of the vehicles in various marks to the US. A further order for 773 was received in July and will take the American fleet to 1963, of which 1335 will have been built at BAE Systems` Ekurhuleni plant.
The 4×4 RG31 with its a V-shaped hull is certified to protect its crew from rifle and light machine gun fire, anti-tank land-mine detonations and improvised explosive devices. In its standard troop carrying configuration the Mk 5E variant can carry up to ten troops (a driver plus nine others), although it can be configured for many other roles.
In addition to the RG31 BAE Systems also produces the RG12 and the RG32M protected vehicles as well as the RG33 4×4 and RG33L 6×6 MRAP vehicles, the latter two manufactured in the US.