The first speaker was Ingénieure en Chef de l’Armement (ICA, equivalent to Colonel) Marie, the Director of the Scorpion programme at the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) the French defence procurement and technology agency. She first mentioned the programme roadmap, which suffered some delays due to the pandemic, albeit these will be recovered soon. She underlined how much all the activities are linked together, thus the DGA is not only the Scorpion project owner but also the programme manager. Beside the first operational deployment of a battalion-level unit, in fall 2021, the next main step will be the deployment of a brigade-level unit with three manoeuvre battalions in fall 2023. While the first operation will see in action only the Griffon and the SIC-S, the brigade deployment will mark the first operational deployment of the Jaguar reconnaissance 6×6 vehicle.
She then detailed the 2020 and 2021 activities of the various Scorpion sub-programmes. Starting from the Griffon APC she explained that the APC version has been qualified in a new vetronic configuration known as CONF 6. Following the qualification by the DGA, this new vetronic release is now being tested by the Armée de Terre, and once it will be cleared all vehicles will be upgraded to the new standard, priority being given to those earmarked for being deployed downrange in 2021. In October 2020 the T1 RCWS was qualified on the Griffon APC version, while a new version of that vehicle, the Command Post, was also accepted. “Talking about production, in 2020 between 90 an 100 Griffons will be delivered to the Armée de Terre; as today [9 December] we got 84 of them which add to the 92 delivered in 2019, and by late 2021 we will have 339 Griffons delivered, the COVID-induced production delays being recovered in early 2021,” IGA Marie said. Next year will see two more versions of the Griffon being delivered, the Engineer one and the so-called Equipe Légère d’Intervention (ELI), which can be translated into Light Intervention Team, a three-man repair team which is deployed when a vehicle has technical problemsor which follows a unit in operation.
“In 2020 the Jaguar was in full qualification process, a very sensible phase, that was heavily affected by the health crisis,” IGA Marie explains, “the process being stopped during the spring lockdown and then resumed in slightly different conditions. That said, the first Jaguar will be delivered in 2021 to the Armée de Terre, and by the end of that same year 20 Jaguars will be delivered, as per planning.” First deliveries will take place in Q2/2020, which will allow the French Army to cope with the planned brigade-level deployment in 2023. The DGA representative also mentioned the contract filed in September 2020, which includes 42 more Jaguars as well as 271 more Griffons, the latter to be delivered in 2022-23.
The Serval, the 4×4 light armoured vehicle, is also in full qualification and experienced the same delays of the Jaguar. “However it was considered that tests had sufficiently advanced in 2020 to allow a first production order to be signed, risk reduction being sufficient for launching the production. This order is awaited in the coming days, within the end of 2020, in order to ensure first deliveries in 2022 as planned,” IGA Marie said.
Detailing tests carried out in the recent past, she highlighted Jaguar mud trials, Jaguar firing trials, which took place in Bourges where the vehicle shot over 300 40 mm rounds, MMP firings being scheduled for February 2021. Blast tests were carried out on the Serval, the 4×4 having also being submitted to load tests on board an A400M mock-up. “DGA teams will be very busy in 2021 to recover delays due to COVID,” she added, these testing involving firing, blast, mobility, electromagnetic compatibility and communications.
The key element of the Scorpion programme is the SIC-S: “In 2020 we delivered the first operational version, the SIC-S 1.0, available on APC and Command Post vehicles, which has been already used by the Army in some exercises and will be qualified in early 2021. We already started working on the following version, SIC-S 1.1, which peculiarity is to be compatible with the CONTACT radio [the 1.0 uses an upgraded version of the legacy PR4G radio]. The convergence between the SIC-S and CONTACT radios will be carried out in 2021, and the new version of the Scorpion CIS will be available in 2022.
As for robotics, she confirmed that the 56 robots ordered in 2019 were delivered to infantry and engineer units. During 2021 heavier robots will be delivered , while a study aimed at integrating all those robots into the Scorpion programme will be launched.
Not much new about the Leclerc MRO programme, if not that a contract for a first batch of 50 XLR upgraded MBTs will be signed in 2021. An operational readiness programme is part of Scorpion, and includes all simulation items. During the current year the DGA ordered the generic cabins of the Serket system while the Griffon combat firing simulator was qualified, the RCWS trainer being awaited in 2021, when the DGA also plans to order the SEMBA embarked simulation systems for the Jaguar.
Photo courtesy ATOS – Infographic courtesy DGA