PARIS — The French Armed Forces Ministry said Thursday it will soon hold talks with its Ukrainian counterpart to arrange for the delivery of armored combat vehicles in what France’s presidency says will be the first time this type of Western-made wheeled tank-destroyer will be given to the Ukrainian military.
Discussions will include the delivery timetable and the training of Ukrainian soldiers on the equipment, the ministry said.
Designated as “light tanks” in French, the AMX-10 RC carries a 105mm cannon and two machine guns. It’s primarily designed for reconnaissance missions and has enough armor to protect against light infantry weapons, according to the French ministry. They have wheels rather than tracks, allowing for better mobility than heavy tanks.
Ukraine has for months sought to be supplied with heavier tanks, including the American-made Abrams and the German-made Leopard 2 tanks.
The Czech Republic and Poland have provided Soviet-era T-72 tanks to Ukrainian forces.
France’s decision was announced after an hourlong call between French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday afternoon. The Elysee declined to provide details about the agreement.
The AMX-10 RC has been in service with the French military since 1981 and has undergone recent upgrades. France’s Armed Forces Ministry said the combat vehicle is now being gradually replaced by the new equivalent named Jaguar.
The decision is another in France’s military support to Ukraine, following the French defense minister’s visit to Kyiv last week.
Paris has supplied Ukraine with a substantial chunk of its arsenal of Caesar cannons, as well as anti-tank missiles, Crotale air defense missile batteries and rocket launchers. It is also training some 2,000 Ukrainian troops on French soil.
U.S. President Joe Biden said his administration is considering sending to Ukraine Bradley combat vehicles, a medium armored combat vehicle that can serve as a troop carrier.
Biden was asked during an exchange with reporters while traveling in Kentucky whether providing the tracked armored fighting vehicle to Ukraine was on the table. He responded “yes,” without offering further comment.
The German government has for months faced calls from Kyiv and some lawmakers at home to deliver Leopard 2 heavy tanks to Ukraine, but has said that it wouldn’t go alone with such a move and that no other country has supplied similar Western equipment.
The co-leader of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party, Saskia Esken, told n-tv television Thursday that Scholz and the government are in regular and close contact “with our partners, with our friends, of course particularly with the Americans” on weapons deliveries.
Britain says it has given Ukraine more than 200 armored vehicles for troop transport, but no tanks as of yet.
Built by GIAT, the AMX-10 RC production line launched in the mid-1970s. While the amphibious, four-wheel drive vehicle is primarily used for reconnaissance, its 105mm gun can also be used as a tank-destroyer. The vehicle — argued by some experts to qualify as a light tank and others as merely a combat vehicle — was designed to target the types of Soviet tanks fielded by Russia to attack Ukraine, and will be helpful for Kyiv’s defenses, a former senior NATO official noted Thursday.
While the AMX-10 does not have the armor of a heavy battle tank, it was designed with speed and mobility in mind, Camille Grand, former NATO assistant secretary general for defense investment, posted on Twitter.
“It also helps advance the debate on (imaginary) redlines on weapon deliveries,” Grand added. Since November 2022, Grand has served as a distinguished policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
Ukraine’s Defence Ministry also hinted Thursday that more heavy vehicles may be on the way to the front lines. “[T]he decision of President @EmmanuelMacron is another step that will bring our victory closer. Especially when the AMX-10 RCs are joined by their American and, we believe, German peers,” the ministry tweeted.
France also plans to send Ukraine 63 high-power generators and 5 million LED light bulbs “in the coming days” to help the nation weather the winter, the government said in a statement.
Vivienne Machi in Stuttgart contributed to this report for Defense News. AP writers Geir Moulson in Berlin, Jill Lawless in London, Monika Scislowska in Warsaw and Karel Janicek in Prague also contributed to this report.