The lightest vehicle seen on the move on the Satory test track was the Areg, the 4.2 tonnes 4×4 high mobility vehicle dedicated to Special Forces. Capable to carry a four-man team, its main armament mounted on the roll-cage can be either a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun or a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher, while a pintle-mounted 7.62 mm machine gun is available to the vehicle commander. Its power-to-weight ratio of about 40 hp/t was clearly visible during the demonstration on the test track ramps. The Areg is fully airdroppable, allowing SF teams to deploy it during in depth missions.
Another vehicle that missed the June 2020 meeting at Villepinte is the Fortress Mk2, the second generation of the Fortress which features a considerably improved protection, both ballistic and anti-blast. Powered by a 340 MD7 6 cylinders diesel engine, it has a GVW of 14.5 tonnes and can host a two-man crew plus nine dismounts when configured for troop transport, medical evacuation and command post vehicle versions being also available. According to company representatives the vehicle GVW was kept under the 15 tonnes limit to ensure maximum mobility on roads in some geographical areas, such as Middle East and Africa, where often bridges cannot cope with heavier loads, something that ensured a good success of Gen 1 Fortress of which over 500 vehicles have been already delivered. The Fortress Mk2 is currently bidding for the Pegaz (Pegasus) contract in Poland, aimed at the Army Special Forces.
Numerous other Arquus products were visible at the static display. One of those was the Sherpa Light, the 11 tonnes 4×4 vehicle sold to France and to at least four export customers, Brazil, India, Kosovo and Lebanon, the vehicle being visible in the homeland security version dedicated to crowd control, fitted with a dozer blade.
The VBL Ultima, the latest evolution of the Véhicule Blindé Léger, is in the early stage of delivery to the French Army, featuring a new 140 hp engine, improved rear axle with modified triangles, an antimine underbelly and a side armoured kit. Two VAB were also visible, an Ultima MMP version and a SAN C-IED version, the latter fitted with underbelly protection against improvised explosive devices.
Photos courtesy François Brévot et Christian Dumont