PARIS ― French special forces and paratroopers are due to receive the first of 300 new light, two-man jeeps at the end of 2021, a spokesman for the procurement office of the Armed Forces Ministry said.
A prototype of the small vehicle, dubbed Rider, was on display at the ministry’s large, indoor display at the Eurosatory trade show for land weapons.
The vehicle weighs less than 2 tons and can be carried inside an NH90 transport helicopter, borne by a sling and dropped by parachute, a spokesman for the Direction Générale de l’Armement told Defense News on Monday.
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The manufacturer, Unac, specializes in building vehicles robust enough to be deployed by parachute, the spokesman said. The light vehicle can tow a trailer, is fitted to carry two 7.62mm machine guns and can carry two radio systems, one for long distance and another for tactical, short-range use.
The DGA ordered the Rider in October 2017, but the spokesman declined to disclose the price tag.
France also ordered from Unac a batch of new bulldozers designed for parachute airdrop, he added. That acquisition of military bulldozers follows the special force’s reliance on airdropped bulldozers in Mali in 2013, as the elite group sought to prepare airstrips for fast deployment in the Serval operation.