Tag Archives: Nexter

High-Speed Interceptor

CMN’s shipyard in Cherbourg on July 24, 2019 launched the first two of a series of 38 High-Speed Interceptor (HIS) boats ordered by Saudi Arabia. The event was attended by Saudi officials and the Kingdom’s media, but not by the French press or government officials. It must be said that the subject remains controversial in France, against a backdrop of controversy over arms sales to Ryad and their potential use in the conflict in Yemen.

The first of 38 High-Speed Interceptor (HIS) boats that France’s CMN shipyards are building for Saudi Arabia was launched on July 24 in Cherbourg. These boats are 32 meters/105 feet long and can reach speeds in excess of 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h (KSA MoD photo)

In the pipeline for a good five years, these interceptors were finally ordered in 2018. They are aluminum boats 32 meters/105 feet long and 6 meters/19.7 feet wide, designated HSI 32; CMN has already produced six for Mozambique. Their propulsion allows them to exceed the speed of 43 knots/50 mph/80 km/h, 47 knots/54 mph/87 km/h having been largely attained during trials, albeit by a boat that was not fully loaded and equipped.

The exact characteristics and performance of the Saudi HSI 32 are not known, but the launching of the first od class shows that their main armament is apparently a Narwhal, 20-mm tele-operated cannon produced by the French company Nexter. They also embark a Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat about 5 meters/16.4 feet long on a rear ramp.

Of the 39 interceptors ordered by Saudi Arabia, about half will be manufactured in Cherbourg, the others being made in Dammam in technology transfer. An agreement with the Saudi group Zamil Offshore Services has been signed to this effect.

Apart from these interceptors, which represent three years of work for CMN, Cherbourg is also building three La Combattante FS 56 large missile boats for the Saudi navy. Construction began in 2017 with a view to delivery starting in 2020. These are the 56-meter/184-foot boats initially commissioned for Lebanon (in 2015) as part of the DONAS program, which was to be financed by the Saudis and was to provide a wide range of French military equipment (boats, helicopters, vehicles, missiles …) to Lebanon.

However, given the complex situation in the Levant and the growing influence of Hezbollah, hostile to Saudi Arabia, Ryad decided in 2016 to suspend the contract as planned, while taking over for itself the orders that had already been signed, with certain evolutions. DONAS then became the SFMC program (Saoudi French Military Contract).

These 42 units produced under the aegis of CMN will bring to 121 the number of military boats sold since 2015 by French shipyards to Saudi Arabia. This includes the 79 type 1650 FIC interceptors made by the manufacturer Girondin Couach for the Saudi coastguards. Delivered between 2016 and 2018, these 16.5-meter/54-foot composite boats, armed with light cannon, are capable of exceeding 60 knots/69 mph/111 km/h.

One can also add Naval Group’s refit of the main frigates of the Saudi navy, which were also produced in France, namely the three F3000s which entered into service between 2002 and 2004, as well as two of the four F2000s, and the Boraida and Yunbou tankers commissioned between 1984 and 1986. This modernization program is due to be completed in 2020.

These contracts obviously involve a number of French equipment manufacturers, starting with the electronics specialist Thales and missile manufacturer MBDA.

France, however, is not the only supplier of Saudi naval forces, far from it. The German shipyard Lürssen won in 2015 a giant contract with the Saudi Ministry of the Interior for up to 140 boats from 15 to 90 meters/49 to 295 feet (interceptors, patrol boats, patrol boats, support units …), including the 79 interceptors subcontracted to Couach.

But it was Spain’s Navantia who won the big prize last year, with the coming into force of a contract for five 100-meter/328-foot corvettes, heavily armed ships displacing 2,500 tonnes. Construction of the lead ship started in January in Cadiz, with a view to delivery in 2022.

Networked vehicles

Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly on Thursday, July 4 attended the first handover of Griffon multi-role armored vehicles (Véhicule Blindé Multi-Rôle, or VBMR) on the site of Nexter in Satory (Yvelines), to the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA), which pronounced the vehicle’s technical qualification, and in turn delivered them to the Army.

With the delivery of the first six Griffon 6×6 armored vehicles, the French Army has begun to implement its Scorpion program, which will provide new and improved networked vehicles and unprecedented levels of communication (FR Army photo)

The Griffon is the new VBMR of the Scorpion program, developed to modernize the medium combat capabilities of the Combat Arms Tactical Group (GTIA). Griffon will replace the Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé (VAB). A robust and versatile vehicle, the Griffon will notably improve the protection of soldiers engaged in combat thanks to more efficient armor protection, a remotely-operated turret and latest generation sensors. It will also take part in digitally-enhanced networked combat for which the French Army is preparing.

Commenting the event, the Minister spoke of the Griffon as a «new face of the Army: an exceptional program by its ambition, its coherence and its magnitude […] a true technological and operational leap […] the fruit of nearly 15 years of work» conducted jointly with industry.

These new vehicles, recalled Florence Parly, will allow «our soldiers to keep the advantage on the ground» by offering «unprecedented protection against ballistic threats, mines and improvised explosive devices, one of the main weapons of our opponents in the Sahel».

The Minister also emphasized the interest of the international partners in the Griffon, and noted that together with the Jaguar armored reconnaissance and combat vehicle (Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance et de Combat, EBRC) it also attracted Belgium, which has adopted the French system on which it has based the Belgian Army’s CaMo (motorized capability) next-generation equipment.

Finally, she took advantage of her visit to announce that an additional 150 vehicles will be ordered, bringing the total to 1,872 units by 2030; in parallel, delivery rates will be increased so that fully 50% of the vehicles of the program are delivered to the Army by 2025.

In accordance with the Military Planning Law (LPM) for 2019-2025, a total of 92 vehicles are to be delivered to the Army in 2019. The first deliveries of the Army Griffon vehicles are scheduled for the summer, with the aim of being able to project a Griffon-equipped GTIA as early as 2021.

Franco-German MBT

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Nexter welcome the announcement by the French and the German governments on the joint development of a new Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) and a new Common Indirect Fire System (CIFS). The Letter Of Intent (LOI) signed on June 19, 2018, is a significant step forward in the defense cooperation between the two countries and in Europe. This close cooperation was the key motivation for the foundation of KNDS in 2015, where Nexter and KMW cooperate as national system houses for land systems.

The European tank unveiled by KMW and Nexter at Eurosatory 2018 in Paris mates the three-man turret of the French Leclerc with the hull of the German Leopard 2A7, and symbolizes the future French-German tank (Twitter photo)
The European tank unveiled by KMW and Nexter at Eurosatory 2018 in Paris mates the three-man turret of the French Leclerc with the hull of the German Leopard 2A7, and symbolizes the future French-German tank (Twitter photo)

MGCS will develop a new generation of Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), providing their users enhanced, innovative, and best-in-class systems with the most advanced technologies. Thus, Germany and France are jointly launching the most strategic project in European land defense for the 30 years to come, a program package that will shape the future of European armies’ main combat capabilities and contribute to Europe’s sovereignty and strategic autonomy.

The skills and background of KMW and Nexter qualify both companies as suitable and particularly powerful and pivotal industrial partners for the Franco-German landsystem-program MGCS. Thus, in close cooperation with leading technology companies, KMW and Nexter will substantially contribute to a strengthened European defense capability.

The agreement of both nations to capitalize on the success of the German and French MBT programs and to base the industrial leadership for the MGCS program in Germany demonstrates the strong commitment towards a unique European cooperation in land systems. Beyond that, it strengthens Europe’s excellence in providing leading edge land-systems-technologies for the years to come.

Lightweight VBMR

February 12th, 2018, Nexter and Texelis are delighted at confirmation by Florence Parly, Minister of Armies, for the attribution of the supply of Lightweight Multi-Role Armoured Vehicles (VBMR Véhicules Blindés Multi-Rôles) for the French Army. The contract went through the «Direction Générale de l’Armement» (DGA) in the presence of Joël Barre, National Armament Director (NAD), and Bernard Barrera, Major General of the land forces.

An artist’s impression of the Véhicules Blindés Multi-Rôles Léger (VBMR Light), the next-generation multirole armored vehicle that will equip the French army’s combat units. Over 2,000 are planned to enter service by 2030 (Nexter image)
An artist’s impression of the Véhicules Blindés Multi-Rôles Léger (VBMR Light), the next-generation multirole armored vehicle that will equip the French army’s combat units. Over 2,000 are planned to enter service by 2030 (Nexter image)

These 4-wheel drive vehicles are designed for use by the Army’s intelligence and reconnaissance units as part of the SCORPION programme. With their multi-role capability, they are equipped with the SCORPION Information and Communication Systems (SICS) and come in several variants: troop transport, command post, artillery fire control, engineering, ambulance, and ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance), tactical communication hub, etc.

The Nexter Group will be responsible for the design to cost and performance, integration, production and support of the lightweight VBMR. This fully French-made vehicle will be assembled in Roanne, alongside the VBMR-GRIFFON and EBRC-JAGUAR, thus reinforcing job creation in the Roanne basin and in the engineering offices.

TEXELIS, a French intermediate sized enterprise based in Limoges, will design and supply the mobility equipment. As the French specialist in heavy vehicle power trains, Texelis contributes to the Lightweight VBMR’s mobility performance.

Stéphane Mayer, Nexter’s CEO commented, «I am extremely proud and pleased of this recognition of the expertise of Nexter and its teams, who have come up with the perfect answer to this programme’s requirements. With this contract Nexter is reinforcing its presence within the SCORPION programme and strengthening its position as the reference player in the field of land armament». This contract follows on from the industrial architect contract awarded to tns-MARS (a JV including Nexter, Safran and Thales), the contract grouping together the design, production and support of the VBMR-GRIFFON and the EBRC-JAGUAR (within a temporary consortium consisting of Nexter, Thales and Renault Trucks Defense) and from the renewal of the Leclerc tank of which Nexter is prime contractor.

For his part, Charles-Antoine de Barbuat, Texelis CEO said, «I am very proud of the Texelis team for the part they have played in winning this highly significant contract for Lightweight VBMR. The decision of the DGA and the partnership with Nexter strengthens and confirms our strategy to be specialists in wheeled armoured vehicle and public transport mobility».