Paris — The French forces pulled a heavily adapted Sherpa vehicle out of field trials for the special forces to put the vehicle on display at the Eurosatory trade show, two French officers said.

Those trials have left their mark on the prototype vehicle, which carries scratches on the body work painted in desert sand camouflage.

Separately, the French procurement office launched in January a tender for some 300 small vehicles to replace Fardier units from Lohr. The services will use the two-seat vehicle so troops can drive out and secure the perimeter of a base. Fardier refers to an 18th-century military engineer who designed and built a steam-driven vehicle for the artillery brigade.

The Sherpa modification includes fitting equipment for intelligence missions, which limited the competition to French companies, as permitted under French law.
The vehicle has also gone through fire trials, said a spokesman for the Direction Générale de l'Armement procurement office. The vehicle is armed with one 12.5mm and three 7.62mm machine guns, and carries five commandos.

The vehicle went through a much-needed cleanup for the exhibition, as commandos had put the vehicle through mobility trials in deep mud following recent torrential rains that made national headlines.

RTD supplied the chassis, which has been heavily adapted by Essone Sécurité to meet special forces-specific requirements.

The modified Sherpa is under test for a heavy vehicle for the French special forces. Renault Trucks Defense, a subsidiary of the Volvo group, won in December the French contract for 443 vehicles, comprising 202 heavy and 241 light vehicles.

After the show, the Sherpa will go back on the trials, intended to lead to delivery of a first batch of 25 units by the end of the year. An empty vehicle weighs 8.4 tons, rising to 11 tons once loaded with equipment.

The light vehicle will weigh three tons, rising to 3.8 tons when carrying kit.

At the RTD stand, the company showed a separate Sherpa vehicle pitched to foreign special forces. That display unit differs markedly from the French adaptation, which has a different engine, wheels and body work.