STUTTGART, Germany – France’s military-procurement office has qualified the patrol variant of its new VBMR-L Serval multirole light armored vehicle, and expects to receive about one-fifth of its planned Serval deliveries by the end of the year, a defense official said Thursday.
The new models of the VBMR-L, the third new vehicle developed under the Ministry of Defense’s Scorpion program to modernize the Army’s fighting vehicles and tech, were qualified by the Direction Generale de l’Armement (DGA) on Nov. 10, Vice Admiral Christophe Lucas, deputy director general for international relations and strategy for the ministry, said during a press briefing. The eight armored patrol sub-variants include: infantry; engineering; mortar 81; mortar 120; command post; medium-range missile; very short-range ground-to-air; and supply, he added.
The DGA’s qualification of the Serval attests to the vehicle’s “suitability for the specifications … and the needs expressed by the Army, with regard to the multiple missions which will have to be carried out with this vehicle,” Lucas said. The Army’s 11th Parachute Brigade will be among the first troops to receive the rides, alongside the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade, he noted.
French companies Nexter and Texelis are building the Servals under a temporary joint operation to replace the Army’s 1970s-era VAB armored personnel carriers over this decade. Manufacturing and subsequent integration of Texelis’ mobility equipment happens at Nexter’s facilities in Roanne, in the French Loire Valley.
The first four vehicles were delivered to the Army in May, and the companies have shipped 30 total Servals since then. The Ministry of Defense is planning to have 70 vehicles built, and 60 deliveries completed, before the end of 2022. Per Lucas, 364 vehicles are already on order, and the ministry has expressed plans to order over 900 total by 2030.
The 4x4 armored vehicle weighs between 15 to 17 tonnes (about 33,000 to 37,480 pounds) depending on its load. It will include all of the Scorpion family of vehicles’ common equipment, including sensors and the Scorpion Combat Information System (SICS), a new communications and battlefield management system for sharing tactical information with other Scorpion vehicles. It will be capable of transporting up to eight troops as well as two crew members.
The VBMR-L is one of four next-generation vehicles being developed under France’s Scorpion program, alongside the larger Griffon armored personnel carrier and its mortar carrier variant MEPAC, as well as the Jaguar reconnaissance and combat vehicle. France expects to procure 1,872 Griffons – including 54 MEPACs – 978 Servals, and 300 Jaguars by 2030. The Griffon and Serval vehicles will replace France’s aging VAB carriers designed by Renault, while the Jaguar will replace three current vehicles: the Giat-built AMX-10RC, the Panhard ERC vehicle, and the VAB HOT armored personnel carriers.
Vivienne Machi is a reporter based in Stuttgart, Germany, contributing to Defense News' European coverage. She previously reported for National Defense Magazine, Defense Daily, Via Satellite, Foreign Policy and the Dayton Daily News. She was named the Defence Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2020.