By Paolo Valpolini
“For us Eurosatory is a key event, it is quite probably the number one land exhibition in the world, it takes place on our playground, and it allows us to properly host our customers and partners, particularly foreign ones, therefore we miss it very much,” Emmanuel Levacher, the Arquus CEO tells EDR On-Line. “Moreover,” he adds, “we were planning a number of announcements and unveilings, and we had new vehicles to exhibit physically in our stand, and this is the second reason of disappointment.” Beside the products, the Arquus stand would have also highlighted other key areas of interest, such as innovation and support. “We decided to go virtual in order to try filling the gap, so we have now online on our website our ‘e-xpo’ which represents very closely what the stand would have looked like and the information that visitors could have found there,” Mr. Levacher explains. To visit the virtual exhibition please click HERE.
Among the new vehicles that can be seen virtually we find the Fortress Mk2 and the whole new family of Armis tactical/logistic trucks, which are described in dedicated articles in this website.
Exhibited in public, at Eurosatory 2018 it was kept in a secluded area where only authorised persons could have a quick look at it, the Scarabée 4×4 scout vehicle would have made is first official public appearance at the 2020 edition of the Paris exhibition. “In 2018 it was a prototype, and since we had continued its development on company funds, the concept being now mature, so at Villepinte we would have announced that the Scarabée is now available on the market,” the Arquus CEO announces. “Awaiting the French Army requirements for the VBAE (Véhicule Blindé d’Aide à l’Engagement) that will replace our VBL, and to a potential ‘europeisation’ of that programme, we are looking at export customers.,” he adds. The 4×4 armoured vehicle proposed by Arquus, with its hybrid propulsion and all steerable axles, is definitely a high-end vehicle that might well find its place among armies that share the same operational concepts of the Armée de Terre as far as reconnaissance, deep operations and support are concerned. “The Scarabée is definitely a high-tech solution, however we watched closely costs in order to make it an attractive solution,” Levacher explains.
For the time being the best seller in the 4×4 range remains the Sherpa Light, which is however ageing. “There will be a successor to the current Sherpa, we are working on it but I cannot unveil anything more, while I want to underline that the current vehicle is still attracting considerable interest on the export market,” the Arquus CEO announces.
Arquus is is also active in the remotely controlled weapon stations field, and developed the RCWS for the French Scorpion programme. “We are now proposing those turrets also on the export market, either installed to our vehicles or to be mounted on third parties platforms,” M. Levacher says.
Talking about the Scorpion programme, “it is our number 1 priority in terms of development and production, and we look at the addition of future vehicles such as the aforementioned VBAE and others,” the company CEO says, Arquus being one of the three main partners in that programme together with Nexter and Thales. “The recent lockdown due to the pandemic slightly delayed production, however work started again since April and in May things were nearly back to normal, so we plan to maintain the production rate and recover part of the delay.”
In perspective there is an interest for adding hybrid propulsion to Scorpion vehicles and not only, although nothing has yet been decided, as fuel saving has become a key issue for French Armed Forces. Not only, hybrid might become the solution as vehicles sub-systems require more and more on-board power, and current alternators are coming to their limits, hence it might be quite probable to see major platforms as the MGCS fitted with parallel hybrid propulsion, according to the Arquus CEO. “Another technological insertion might well be predictive maintenance; we have added HUMS (Health and Usage Monitoring System) on non-Scorpion vehicles and are developing the right algorithms, that could subsequently might be added to the Scorpion fleet to reduce the logistic footprint.”
After sales support has become one of the key areas for Arquus, looking both at the national customer as well as at the export market. “Our Minister of the Armies is more and more relying on the industry for high level maintenance, and we are developing our structures and procedure according to this,” M. Levacher tells us, “but we also offer full product-services packages to our export customers. Our teleoperated maintenance system is now well in place, and i.e. the Chilean Carabineros started using it well before the COVID crisis, which stopped international flights, some African customers also relying on the back-up support of our technicians through these digitised systems, and even the French Amy acquired a limited number of those systems,” Emmanuel Levacher concludes, wishing that next meeting will be in person and not virtual.
Photos courtesy Arquus