Ministerial Committee on Defence Investments (excerpt)
(Source: French Ministry of Defence; issued Feb. 22, 2010)
(Issued in French; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)
The Scorpion program aims to replace the French army’s armoured vehicles and soldier equipment, and to transform its 8 combined arms brigades into 18 networked tactical combat groups. (French MoD photo)
PARIS --- Meeting on Feb. 22, 2010 the French defense ministry’s Ministerial Committee on Investments approved the launch of the initial development stage of the Scorpion joint integrated development project.

Scorpion brings together various hitherto-separate programs for the modernization of the Army’s eight combined arms brigades. Each comprising 5,000 to 6 000 men each, these brigades are made up of infantry, armor, artillery and engineer regiments. They serve as capability pools from which the Army generates combined arms battle groups (GTIA) for deployment on overseas operations, such as current operations in Afghanistan, and as such constitute the heart of the land forces.

The Scorpion project has the following objectives:
-- To renew or upgrade armored fighting vehicles dating from 1970s, 80s and 90s;
-- Improve the protection of men and equipment;
-- To increase the effectiveness of soldiers and weapons systems with the networking of information systems and combat vehicles (SIC).

Scorpion’s design phase will last until 2012, and the objective is to complete the project’s first phase by 2020. This includes deliveries of nearly a thousand VBMR (Véhicule Blindé Multi-Rôles) multi-role armored vehicle replacing the Vehicles de l’Avant Blindé (VAB) wheeled armored vehicle, (VAB); about 70 new Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance et de Combat (EBRC) armored reconnaissance and combat vehicles to succeed the AMX 10 RC and ERC-90 Sagaie; and the modernization of the Leclerc tanks.

Ultimately, the program will allow the French army to generate up to 18 Scorpion Combined Tactical Combat Groups. Fully integrated and digitized, these groups will be equipped with combat information networks, related digitalization kits, Véhicule Blindés de Combat de l’Infanterie (VBCI) infantry combat vehicles as well as the Félin future soldier program.

The budget for Scorpio is estimated at 5 billion euros for the initial phase (2010-2020).


(EDITOR’S NOTE: Compared to other army modernization efforts, France’s Scorpion appears more straightforward and affordable because it first aims to develop a digital combat network which can then be implemented into both existing and new armored vehicles. It also brings forward programs that were planned for later this decade and next, presumably for improved coherence between operational requirements and industrial capabilities.) (ends)




Additional Information on Scorpion
(Source: compiled by defense-aerospace.com; posted Feb. 23, 2010)
Scorpion is similar, in its approach and scope, to the US Army’s former Future Combat Systems or the British army’s Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) modernization programs, both of which have been dropped because of their gigantic cost and overly ambitious objectives.

This is the additional information that has been released on the Scorpion program:

-- An initial contract for 70 million euros will be awarded within the next two months for the definition of Scorpion’s general architecture. It will be followed, until 2012, by several other study contracts (for risk reduction, technology demonstrators, etc.). This phase will be concluded with the selection of the prime contractor for the various systems and equipment.

-- Three industry groups are competing for a prime contract to become the Scorpion system architect: EADS; a consortium of Nexter, Thales and Sagem; and C&S and Ineo. A second competition will be held to select the systems integrator.

-- The full cost of the Scorpion program is over 10 billion euros up to 2025.

-- The preliminary milestones for Scorpion are full-scale launch in 2012; initial VBMR (heavy) deliveries in 2015; initial upgraded Leclerc deliveries in 2015; initial tactical network in service by 2017, fully-capable network to follow by 2020; full implementation including new vehicles to follow by 2025.

-- Two versions of the BVMR wheeled vehicle, heavy and light, are planned. The first order for 200 heavy versions is scheduled for 2013, and for the first light versions in 2015. About 1,000 BVMRs will be procured during the first phase of Scorpion, but the French army might ultimately order as many as 2,300 VBMRs to meet all of its requirements.

-- Beginning in 2013, the army will modernize its inventory of 254 Leclerc main battle tanks, primarily to update their capabilities but also to improve their urban combat. Initial deliveries in 2015.

-- The AMX-10RC and ERC-90 Sagaie wheeled combat vehicles are being upgraded. They will be replaced, beginning in 2020-2025, by about 300 of new Engins Blindé de Reconnaissance et de Combat (EBRC) gun-armed wheeled vehicles. A first batch of 70 EBRCs will be ordered for delivery in 2018.

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