05/18/2015 Victor M. S. Barreira - DefenceIQ
Between the summer of 2015 and the spring of 2016, the French Army engineers units will receive 60 VAB Ultima Génie 4x4 armoured engineering vehicles.
It will provide the front-line engineers units with the same support capabilities as the infantry units, with which they cooperate closely. The vehicle is another variant of the modernised VAB Ultima.
The fleet ordered on 27 June 2014 is an option part of the 2011 contract awarded by French armament procurement arm DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) to Renault Trucks Defense for the modernisation of 170 in-service VAB (Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé) vehicles to VAB Ultima standard.
Modernisation of an initial 120 troop carriers was ordered in 2009. 230 of the 290 modernised VABs are of the VAB Ultima Infanterie version for infantry troops. The programme will be concluded after the 60 vehicles are delivered.
The engineering variant allows engineers to carry out all types of engineering missions through its basic engineering kit, plus one of the six mission specific kits. Renault Trucks Defense (of Volvo Group Government Sales or VGGS) together with the French Army Technical Unit (Section Technique de l’Armée de Terre or STAT) and the French Army Engineers School approved the loading of all possible engineer corps kits on the prototype.
Fittings on the VAB Ultima include Kongsberg Protech Systems Protector M151 remote weapon station armed with 12.7mm heavy machine gun or Heckler & Koch GMG 40mm automatic grenade launcher; structural modifications; improved mine and ballistic protection by IBD Deisenroth Engineering; storage boxes; integration kits for Sagem FELIN-equipped soldiers (Fantassin à Équipements et Liaisons INtégrés); Sagem SITEL (Systeme d’Information Terminal ELementaire) information system; Elno SRI-1200 intercom system; suspended seats by Schroth Safety Products; slat armor by Amefo; protected mounts for light machine guns; Metravib SLATE (Système de Localisation du Tireur Embusqué) gunshot sensor; large mount for antennas; protective glass systems of Rheinmetall Chempro, jamming system; and improved brake and suspension systems.
About 4000 VAB vehicles of several variants were delivered to the French Army. The type will be replaced from 2018 by 1722 of the Griffon 6x6 multi-role vehicle being developed by a consortium formed by Nexter Systems, Renault Trucks Defense and Thales Communications & Security as part of a contract placed by the DGA on 5 December 2014.