France may purchase Arquus Sherpa armored vehicles for its Gendarmerie
As reported by Laurent Lagneau on Opex360, the current armored vehicles used by te French Gendarmerie, designated VBRG (Véhicules blindés à roues de la Gendarmerie, Wheeled Armored Vehicles of the Gendarmerie) have over 40 years of service. Often mentioned, their replacement has never been successful, while the maintenance in operational condition, despite all the goodwill in the world, is more and more complicated to ensure and imposes "cannibalization", that is to say to recover the good parts on other vehicles to make continue to operate those which are still in an acceptable condition. Of the 155 VBRG delivered to the Gendarmerie Mobile for its law enforcement missions, only around 80 remain operational.
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Arquus Sherpa Light of the French GIGN (Picture source: Army Recognition)
Retrofitting VBRGs appears too expensive and not solving the obsolescence problem of some equipment. So, General Labbé, head of the General Inspectorate of the National Gendarmerie], decided to proceed with the acquisition of new vehicles, at a unit price of 700,000 euros, or roughly double the price of the retrofit for four times the life expectancy, with an operational gain and, presumably, significant savings in maintenance. The difficulty is to find a vehicle offering a good level of protection to the gendarmes, likely to be exposed to fire weapons, and capable of clearing obstacles. Ideally, such a vehicle should have a blade at the front at its engine at the rear, so enabling an optimal visibility.
Arquus would join the ranks with its successful Sherpa. The Gendarmerie estimates its need to 89 armored vehicles. So, a complete renewal of this capacity would cost about 65 million euros. But the Sherpa’s engine is located at the front. However, the GIGN (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) is already equipped with Sherpa Light vehicles equipped with a ladder. One of them served in a spectacular assault against terrorits in 2015.
On July 19, as part of the revised budget bill for 2020, the Senate voted an envelope of 75.3 million euros [in commitment authorization] to renew part of the vehicles used by the police and gendarmes [who come under the Ministry of the Interior while having retained their military status, Laurent Lagneau recalls]. This measure should make it possible to acquire, from 2020, "around 1,150 electric vehicles [produced in Flins and Maubeuge by Renault], 1,150 gasoline vehicles and 1,500 electric bicycles produced in France". "This renewal corresponds to an increase of 50% of the equipment plans which were planned for 2020", welcomed the Ministry of the Interior.