French Army Demonstrates Urban Combat Experimentation – 2006 Eurosatory Exhibition


Planning to improve its urban combat capabilities, the French Army is testing new concepts under the AZUR Urban Survivability Functions Demonstration program. Three vehicles specially modified for AZUR were displayed.

A GIAT Leclerc Main Battle Tank, a Renault VAB armored troop carrier and a Panhard VBL light armored scout. Each vehicle was fitted with a special AZUR kit designed for field installation within few hours, requiring no workshop infrastructure. The AZUR kit developed by GIAT for the Leclerc includes improved firepower, observation and situational awareness, upgraded protection and survivability, enhanced C3I and better ergonomics. Collaboration, identification and situational awareness are maintained by sharing a wireless communication and networking with all combat elements. All vehicles are equipped with this wireless network, facilitating direct collaborative networking between all elements. Each of the vehicles is also equipped with daylight night/thermal visible combat identification panels and an Omni-directional Video Camera (ODR) developed in Israel by ODF Optronics.

The visible additions of the Leclerc include appliqué side panels and rear protection slate armor, additional coverage and density of the GALIX close defense systems, through the additional launchers covering 360 deg. (firing smoke, non-lethal ammunition and grenades). Other enhancements include the protection of all openings, against burning liquid, securing all explosive materials and strengthening external mounts, to minimize damage of vandalism by hostile crowd. The tank is equipped with jettisoned multi-purpose logistics load racks used to rearm and support dismounted troops under fire. An FNH Arrows Remotely Controlled Weapon Station mounting 7.62mm machine gun replaces the commander’s pintle mounted machinegun, featuring day/night sighting and the ability to engage targets near the tank and at high elevations.

The VAB troop carrier is equipped with a RAFAEL Mini-Samson day/night remote controlled weapon station, an ODR panoramic camera, wireless intercom, multi-purpose removable storage devices, multi-functional socket extensions and CID panels. The VBL light patrol vehicle AZUR demonstrator is equipped with white light/IR projector, mounted in parallel to the machine gun, GALIX close defense systems and additional firearms which can be reloaded from within the armored cabin, firing non lethal crowd dispersal munitions.

A different urban combat application was displayed by Elbit Systems, demonstrating an array of sensors and weapons, mounted for demonstration purposes on a Renault VAB 4×4 vehicle. The system’s ensemble included dual-axis stabilized unmanned turret, mounting an automatic 25mm cannon, a model of the IMI Iron Fist active protection system, augmented by the infrared sensor Tandir, which can be linked to the APS or on-board situational display. An Elisra EJAB IED jammer is also installed in the vehicle. A new product displayed on the VAB was the ‘omni-vision’ multi-sensor assembly, providing a panoramic view of the vehicle’s rear area. Omni-Vision could also be installed on a UGV, offering continuous hemispheric coverage. Tandir can be integrated with the Threat Detection System, which detects, categorizes and localizes laser sources from rangefinders, designators, beam-riding missiles and IR target illuminators.

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