PARIS — Industry is expecting France to soon launch a tender worth an estimated total €250 million for two types of vehicles for its special operations forces, sources close to the deal said.
The procurement reflects a need for a speedy equipping of the special forces, which have been widely engaged in foreign missions and have worn out the Panhard Véhicule de Patrouille Spéciale.
"The special forces can't wait," said a source who declined to be identified.
The tender comprises two orders, one worth €100 million and the other €150 million, a second source said.
"I hope a solution can be found that meets the urgent needs of the operational forces and the realities of the procurement procedure," French senator Jacques Gautier said.
One of the specifications is that two of the vehicles can be loaded on the C-130 Hercules transport.
Renault Trucks Defense (RTD), part of the Volvo group, has filed papers to qualify for the tender, which is expected to be launched soon, an industry executive said.
RTD declined comment.
The SOFINS website refers to "the must-go biennial event for collaboration between the Special Forces community and French industrialists."
RTD had fitted a naval version of a pintle-mounted Nexter 20mm gun on the Sherpa Light displayed at SOFINS two years ago. A second special forces show is due to be held April 14-16 at the Souge army base, near Bordeaux, southwest France.
The special forces drew on lessons learned in the Mali campaign, when insurgents drove pick-ups armed with a Russian 14.5mm gun, which has a range of 1.2 kilometers, greater than that of the 12.7mm, or .50-inch, NATO standard weapon.
A second major equipment project for the special forces is an upgrade of avionics and further tactical capabilities on the C-130. The avionics must conform with rules that go into effect from 2020 and set by the International Civil Aviation Organization.