The French Ministry of Defense announced the selection of an industry group comprising Thales, Sagem and Nexter, to lead the architecture development of the French land forces modernization program known as ‘Scorpion‘. The announcement, originally expected in June this year, was delayed after the French government committed to deep budget cuts. The Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), the French defense development and procurement arm, awarded the team €21 million contract to finalize Scorpion system architecture, preparing for the next phase of specific systems development and acquisition in two years. Contractor selection for the specific elements of Scorpion is expected towards the end of 2013, leading to initial fielding in program in 2016. Scorpion is currently budgeted at around €5 billion.
The consortium’s proposal to the DGA centred around the creation of a dedicated company, ‘Master of Architecture Scorpion’ (MARS), thereby “ensuring autonomous governance and a simplified industrial organisation” the official announcement stated. “The company will work in close, ongoing partnership with DGA, headquarters and land forces teams, with a clear focus on operational realities. This platform-based, collaborative approach, implemented on both a face-to-face and network basis, represents a new challenge, which MARS will address in a spirit of transparency, with the best interests of the armed forces in mind. The company is also committed to impartiality in its engineering choices and in dialogue with industrial partners.” the partners declared in a joint statement.
The specific element in Scorpion comprise about a thousand new multi-role armored vehicles (VBMR) replacing current wheeled armored personnel vehicles (VAB) beginning in 2016, and about 70 new armored reconnaissance combat vehicle (EBRC) scheduled to enter service around from 2019, replacing current AMX 10RC. The program also includes comprehensive modernization of the Leclerc tank. The program also includes the fielding of a new battle command system “Scorpion Information Combat Systems (SICS). The program also integrates some of the modern elements recently introduced to the French land forces, such as the armored infantry fighting vehicle (VBCI) and Felin infantry combat suits. Eventually, Scorpion will equip all French battle groups.
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