Nexter has handed over the first Aravis armoured vehicle to Gabon, which will use the type for peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic (CAR) as part of the United Nation’s Minusca mission.
The vehicle was handed over to Gabon’s defence minister Ernest Mpouho Epigat by Nexter Group CEO Philippe Burtin in Satory, France, on June 15.
The vehicles will be deployed with the Gabonese battalion in the CAR in the third quarter of this year, Nexter said, making the Aravis the latest Nexter vehicle engaged in a United Nations peacekeeping mission, following in the footsteps of the Leclerc tank, the VBCI and the Caesar, all three deployed in Lebanon by French forces as part of Unifil.
It was revealed in October 2014 that Gabon’s military had bought 12 Aravis armoured vehicles. Gabon’s vehicles will be armed with a Nexter remotely operated ARX20 turret with a M621 20×102 mm cannon firing at a rate of 750 rounds per minute. The 270 kg turret has a day/night camera and can be operated and fired on the move, and is able to engage targets out to 2 000 metres.
The vehicles will be fitted with PG-Guard RPG protection. The PG-Guard is a metal mesh/cage that fits around the vehicle and disrupts the shaped charge warheads of rocket-propelled grenades and high explosive anti-tank rounds.
Gabon will also receive Nexter Robotics Nerva LG wheeled unmanned ground vehicles for reconnaissance and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) route clearance. The vehicle is designed to be an extension of the vehicle that carries it. The throwable and waterproof vehicle can be controlled from a computer, tablet or smartphone and can be operated semi-autonomously by following waypoints and automatically brought back home. Payloads can include an infrared camera, day camera etc. The Nerva LG’s first customer was Myanmar, which bought the civilian version in February this year.
The 4×4 Aravis is based on a Mercedes Unimog chassis and can carry up to seven troops but is available in command post and ambulance variants. It is powered by a Mercedes-Benz OM 924 diesel delivering 218 hp which gives a road speed of up to 100 km/h when 4×2 mode is engaged. It is air transportable in a C-130.
The Aravis features Stanag 4569 Level 4 ballistic protection able to defeat 14.5 mm threats, Level 4 mine protection able to defeat 10 kg mines under the belly and wheels and all-round Level 4 protection against 155 mm artillery splinters. The Aravis has been tested to withstand the detonation of 50 kg of TNT at a distance of five metres.
Gabon became the third nation to buy the Aravis, after the French army (15) and Saudi Arabia (73).