Thirteen years in the making, the French Army’s premier 1st Infantry Regiment will this September take delivery of the FELIN soldier system. The French Army ordered 22 588 sets of the Fantassin à Équipement et Liaisons Intégrés (Integrated Equipment and Communications Infantryman) for its infantry, armoured cavalry, engineers and artillery at a cost of about one billion euro.
FELIN is an integrated soldier system designed to enhance all the dismounted soldier’s operational functions: protection, observation, C4I (command, control, computers, communications and intelligence), weapons use, mobility and support, the manufacturer, Sagem, says. It adds delivery follows a technical/operational evaluation last year that was adjudged a success. Some 358 FELIN units were tested by four regiments – “battle-hardened units who have all seen combat in Afghanistan. Their mission was to test the system in the most demanding environments: mountains, jungles, deserts, when parachuting and in urban combat.” According to Sagem, 190 modifications were carried out as a result of the evaluation phase.
The second unit scheduled to receive the system will be the elite 13th Chasseurs Alpins battalion.
Starting next year, four regiments will be equipped per year. Sagem delivered the first 90 systems to the Infantry School’s FELIN training centre last month to start the initial training of the army’s instructors.
French Army Technical Section FELIN programme head director Colonel Rey Laurent Barraco says the system amounts to a quantum leap. “We put a section equipped with FELIN in face-to-face simulated combat, by day and by night, with another outfitted with today’s equipment: there’s no comparison,” explains, head of the French Army’s FELIN program in its Technical Section.
The FELIN system comprises:
Modifications to clothing and body armour
A new portable electronic platform
New individual energy sources
Modifications to weapons
Modification of the helmet
The FELIN information network