Officially launched in 2014, the Scorpion program is entering a decisive year in 2019: the delivery and initial evaluation by the Army of the first pieces of equipment. In a few months, the first Griffon vehicles will be delivered to the training units.
"The time is no longer uncertain. Three years from now, the first Scorpion Combined Battle Group (Groupe Tactique Inter-Armées, GTIA) will deploy on operations. Today, we are in working order, working together for this single purpose: to deliver a fully operational system to the Army.”
With these words, General Charles Baudouin, deputy chief of the French Army staff for plans and programs, marked the introduction of the working group that brings together all the actors of this colossal challenge.
The Scorpion program includes six components: three new armored vehicles (Griffon, Jaguar, Serval), the modernization of the Leclerc tank, the SICS information system and the operational readiness system. The year 2019 is a pivotal year for this capability renewal: The Army is entering the delivery phase.
Training the first crews
"The arrival of the Griffon will be done in two stages," says Colonel Olivier, Scorpion Program Officer at the Army Staff. The Army Technical Section (STAT), the 1er Regiment de Chasseurs d’Afrique (1st African Rifles, or 1st RCA), the Scorpion Expert Combat Force (FECS), the Infantry School (EI) and the Bourges Military School (EMB) will be the first to receive the new vehicles. "Each of these actors plays a role in the trials phases, but also in the appropriation of the vehicle by its users, in order to be able to train the first crews and maintenance teams before the end of the year," said Colonel Olivier.
The arrival of Scorpion translates into an innovative training policy. The first actors will enter the scene almost simultaneously. "Time is running out," admits General Baudouin, "but the soldier remains our first indicator: we will move at his pace. Beginning in July, 1st RCA and FECS soldiers will begin training to acquire the knowledge necessary to train regimental instructors. The first four vehicles, which will parade on the Champs Elysées on July 14, will be manned by soldiers from all these units.
The main deadlines
92 Griffon will be delivered by the end of 2019 and 220 more by the end of 2020, as follows:
-- June: Section Technique de l’Armée de Terre (Army technical section) (6 vehicles);
-- July: 1st Régiment de Chasseurs d’Afrique (6 vehicles);
* Scorpion Combat Expert Team (5 vehicles)
* Bourges Military School (6 vehicles)
* Draguignan Military School (1 vehicle);
-- February 2020: 3rd Marine Infantry Regiment (21 Griffon Félin (**) Troop Carriers);
-- April 2020: 13th Mountain Rifle Battalion (21 Griffon Félin Troop Carriers);
-- From May 2020: delivery to the 1st Infantry Regiment, 21st Marine Infantry Regiment and 3rd Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment;
-- From July 2020: delivery of Griffon command post.
The new SICS information system, the heart of the program
If the Griffon is for the moment the most visible part of the Scorpion program, it is closely linked to its embedded command system: SICS. "The info-valorization is the heart of Scorpion," insists Colonel Olivier. "Tomorrow, the entire GTIA will benefit from the same system, from the corps commander down to the dismounted soldier. The fluidity of information flow will allow faster and more efficient decision-making.”
Modeled on the equipment delivery plans, SICS will be fitted to the first Griffons delivered, and then gradually to the entire army by the end of 2020. Working initially with the 4th generation radio set, SICS will evolve to work with its successor, the Contact radio station, as it is introduced. To test the consistency of the system, the first GTIA-level exercise equipped with SICS will take place in Mailly-le-Camp next April.
The Scorpion program is therefore much broader than the arrival of the three new armored vehicles, as Lieutenant-General Guionie, Commander of the Land Forces, points out:
“A global project, Scorpion will impact the entire army. Even the way we are introducing it is innovative," concludes General Baudouin. "Indeed, we have brought together all the players involved in the Scorpion transformation process in a very short decision loop for faster information exchange. The sooner the units will use the equipment, the sooner we will be able to exploit their feedback. We have three years to prepare the first deployment. It's up to us to provide the most efficient system possible."
**: Félin is the French Army’s new soldier equipment suite.