On October 15, 2020, Arquus handed over to the Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace, the French Air and Space Force the last P4 VIPAIR vehicle, in accordance with contractual commitments. Initiated in 2016, the VIPAIR programme aimed at transforming a batch of 19 P4 ASPIC vehicles of the French Air and Space Force into Intervention and VIPAIR Air Projection Vehicle (Véhicule d’Intervention et de Projection Air), intended for the training of airborne commandos and projection in foreign operations.
The basic vehicle to be modified, the P4 ASPIC, was a reinforced chassis P4 vehicle, designed to carry a short range ASPIC anti-aircraft weapon system. Of the 24 ASPIC P4 vehicles in service with the French Air and Space Force, 19 were to be converted into P4 VIPAIRs, the other 5 being kept in reserve for other uses.
The P4 VIPAIR, for its part, had to be equipped with a multi-purpose weapon support tray, as well as many accessories, allowing it to carry out liaison and intervention missions for the benefit of the Air and Space Force.
A first prototype vehicle, developed and produced in Marolles-en-Hurepoix, was tested and approved by the Directorate General of Armament – Land Techniques (DGA TT) in May 2017. Arquus then conclusively ensured the verification of the technical feasibility of upgrading the safety components of the chassis of the 18 vehicles and the prototype. In May 2018, the French Air and Space Force commissioned Arquus to transform the 18 ASPIC vehicles and the VIPAIR prototype into 19 VIPAIR vehicles at the final standard adopted.
In September 2018, the definition of the vehicle was adjusted around the prototype in order to agree on the series production of these 19 vehicles. The French Air and Space Force then expressed additional requests regarding the rear plate, the communication window and the painting of the vehicles.
The programme thus finally includes the technical upgrading of the vehicles, on a case-by-case basis, the equipping of the chassis with a multipurpose platform, the fitting of accessories such as a circular support, roll bars, wheel supports. emergency supplies and jerry cans, as well as vehicle painting operations in Brun Terre de France. All of these operations represent several dozen hours of work per vehicle. The VIPAIR P4s have also been approved to take into account the modification of the vehicle’s GVW.
Production started in September 2018, with delivery of the last vehicles scheduled for the end of 2020. The first P4 VIPAIR was thus presented to the Air and Space Force in March 2019, on the Arquus site in Saint -Nazaire. Production was then continued in line with the availability of the bases by the Air and Space Force.
A first series of 3 vehicles was delivered in April 2019, a second in July 2019, a third in November 2019, and a fourth in March 2020, immediately before the COVID health crisis. The last 6 vehicles were handed over to the forces from September 16, 2020, the last leaving the Saint-Nazaire site on October 15. They were then deployed to various Air and Space Force bases, where they were positively received.
Halfway between Industrial Repair and original equipment, the VIPAIR programme mobilized around ten staff from the teams at the Arquus sites in Marolles-en-Hurepoix and Saint-Nazaire, both in the design office and in production.
Photo courtesy Arquus