An Update on French Defense Industry During the Lockdown: April 1, 2020


By Pierre Tran

Paris – Arquus last week delivered 13 VAB armored troop carriers to support the French army in the African Barkhane operation, and an initial batch of 100 VT4 light vehicles for national security, the vehicle manufacturer said March 31.

Meanwhile, Nexter partially restarted production March 30 after a week’s shut down, the company said on its LinkedIn website.

Arquus shipped its vehicles in the second week of the national lock down, which has been extended to April 15 in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Arquus was able to deliver the vehicles which were already built and fitted out under an accelerated program. Production has been closed since the quarantine came into effect, while service and spares have been provided under a reduced workforce.

“Arquus last week conducted a complete inventory of the assets which could be quickly made available to the services,” the company said in a statement.

That review led to identification of a park of almost 300 vehicles, both armored and unarmored, with some new units and some reconditioned, the company said.

Talks with the Direction Générale de l’Armement procurement office and army’s SIMMT maintenance arm led to DGA inspection and certification of 13 VAB troop carriers at the Garchizy plant, central France.

Those vehicles, delivered early in the week of March 23, had been adapted to give greater protection, based on lessons learnt in the field. That shipment completed a batch of 40 units and will “strengthen the capability made available to services deployed in Barkhane,” the company said.

The Barkhane mission is the French army’s operation in sub-Saharan Africa against Islamist fundamentalist fighters. President Emmanuel Macron has committed to send 600 more French troops to reinforce the 4,500 already deployed.

In addition to the troop carriers, Arquus is also delivering 200 light vehicles under the lock down.

Arquus delivered late last week an initial batch of 100 VT4 vehicles from its Saint Nazaire plant, northern France. A second batch of 100 VT4 will be delivered next week, to boost the services’s operations on national territory, the company said.

A further batch of 73 VT4 vehicles is due to be shipped.

The army deploys up to 10,000 troops in the Sentinel operation, with armed foot patrols and light vehicles deployed nationwide.

Some 35 percent of staff at the Garchizy plant were working under tight health rules, handling the dispatch of spares to the forces.

The VT4, based on the Ford Explorer, replaces an aging fleet of P4 jeeps. Arquus is the subsidiary of Volvo, a Swedish truck maker.

Nexter, builder of medium and heavy armored vehicles, partially returned to work March 30 after closing down for a week, the company said on its LinkedIn website.

The company cleaned equipment in factories and made sanitizing gel available to workers. Managers have been drawing up plans for gradually restarting production for those designated as priority programs. That return to production required talks with the large supply chain.

Workers on maintenance service continued to work, the company said.

Nexter is prime contractor on the Griffon multirole troop carrier and Jaguar combat and reconnaissance vehicle, two key elements in the army’s Scorpion modernization program. The company handles design of the Jaguar.

Thales, an electronics company, is industrial partner on these Scorpion programs.

Texelis, a supplier of drivelines and axles, is partner with Nexter for a light armored vehicle for intelligence and reconnaissance missions.