PARIS —   Paris – The Direction Générale de l’Armament awarded a contract to Renault Trucks Defense on Dec. 30 for the design and construction of a total 443 vehicles for the special forces, composed of 241 light and 202 heavy vehicles, the procurement office said.

A DGA spokesman declined to give the value of the contract.

A first batch of 25 heavy vehicles will be delivered in a first standard, to meet the most urgent requirements, while the first of the light vehicles will be dispatched in 2018, the DGA said in a Jan. 7 statement.

The vehicles are needed to replace a current fleet that which has seen extensive use, and requiring early replacement. The new light vehicle will replace the Panhard Vehicule de Patrouille Spéciale.

"This program responds to the most demanding operational requirements for missions of intelligence gathering, combat, long-range operation in hostile zones in the greatest possible stealth and seeking to improve interoperability and the performance of vehicles operated by the Army, Air and Navy elements of the special forces," the DGA said.

Panhard, a unit of RTD, will handle design and production of the light vehicle, while Essone Sécurité will design and produce common equipment for both light and heavy vehicles.

RTD, part of the Volvo group, had faced competition from Nexter and Lohr, defense blog Le Mamouth reported.

Procurement chief Laurent Collet-Billon told journalists on Feb. 9, 2015, last year a tender would be held because as no off-the-shelf vehicle met the specifications, which called for two years of development. The development would adapt a vehicle, which would then undergo a certification to show the weapons and radio were fit for use, he said.