France Acquires Vikings to Equip its Rapid Intervention Forces

the BvS10 Viking, successfully operated by the Dutch Marines in Tchad in the winter of 2008. Photo: BAE Systems

The French government has selected the latest version of the BAE Systems BvS10 MkII Viking all-terrain tracked vehicle to equip its rapid intervention combined-arms battle group. The BvS10 MkII is produced by the company’s Swedish based Hägglunds AB subsidiary. France is already operating a lighter version of the Small Unit Support Vehicle BvS 206S optimized for in mountainous areas, over snow, bog land and over wet terrain.

the BvS10 Viking, successfully operated by the Dutch Marines in Tchad in the winter of 2008. Photo: BAE Systems

“The MkII version of the BvS10 completely fulfils the French Army’s requirements in terms of protection, mobility and payload while maintaining the flexibility to perform across the spectrum of military operations,” said Jan Söderström, managing director for BAE Systems’ Vehicles business. The vehicles will be protected against small arms, improvised explosive devices (IED), mines and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG).

The latest BvS10 MkII recently ordered for the French Rapid Intervention Forces. Photo: BAE Systems.

The fully amphibious BvS10 is heavier, capable of carrying of up to five tons. It was developed for the British Royal Marines, and has been fielded by the Dutch Marines as well. Although the British forces have used the Viking extensively in Afghanistan, the British MoD has favored the heavier, more protected Singaporean Warthog all-terrain tracked vehicles to equip the Marines in Afghanistan. France has ordered 53 vehicles, part of a total of 129 worth over £220 million. The French have considered both the Singaporean and Swedish vehicles and selected the Swedish design. The vehicles will enhance the capabilities of French Army rapid intervention battlegroup, and be delivered in three versions – troop carrier, command and utility (logistics support) vehicle. Three prototypes will be delivered to France in 2010 for qualification and testing, followed by production deliveries from 2011 to 2014, equipping a rapid deployment battle group.

“The contract  acknowledges the high performance and strong market position of our battle-proven BvS10 and secures the continued development of the vehicle” Söderström added.

Although the majority of the work will be done in Sweden, the British AeroSpace, Defence and Security trade organization A|D|S has expressed satisfaction from the French decision. “UK industry is pleased to see signs of greater Government openness and cooperation between the UK and France in the defence sector” said Ian Godden A|D|S Chairman. “The UK and France have very significant capabilities in technology but similar budget pressures, which makes further cooperation essential.” He added, noting that joint procurement by the two governments has waned over the last two decades. According to BAE Systems, the project will be run in close cooperation with French partners, such as Panhard and EADS.

A Bv206S all terrain armored vehicle operated by the French Army alpine units. Photo: SIRPA Terre.