French Leclerc MBT soon to be connected and rejuvenated

Florence Parly, French Minister of Defense, welcomes the notification by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), on June 1, 2021, of the renovation by the company Nexter Systems of the first 50 Leclerc main battle tanks for the benefit of the Ground Force (Armée de Terre).
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French Leclerc XLR main battle tank at Eurosatory 2018 defense exhibition (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The renovation of the Leclerc, which entered service in 1993, is one of the seven operations constituting the SCORPION program, the objective of which is to renew and modernize the contact combat capabilities of the Army. The design for the renovation of the Leclerc tanks was notified by the DGA to the company Nexter Systems in March 2015.

The Military Programming Law (LPM) 2019-2025 provides for a target of 200 Leclerc tanks renovated in 2028; deliveries of the first 50 will take place between 2022 and 2024. The refurbished Leclerc tank will remain in service until the arrival of the future Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) by 2040.

Goals of the Military Programming Law (LPM) 2019-2025:
• integrate the Leclerc tank into the SCORPION Combined Arms Tactical Group (GTIA) by providing it with warning and information resources common to SCORPION vehicles (Information and Command System [SICS], radio Contact);
• adapt to new threats (improved protection against Improvised Explosive Devices [IED] and rockets, jammer against remote-controlled IEDs, remotely operated weapon turret);
• deal with the identified obsolescence of some of its original equipment, in particular the fire control computers, in order to be able to fire future ammunition.

The first 3rd generation combat tank – the renovated Leclerc tank (the Leclerc XLR) – is the French Army’s main coercion and decision-making tool. It has exceptional fire, mobility and protection capabilities. It is capable of shooting on the move at a fixed or moving target up to a distance of 4,000 meters.

Leclerc's capability is essential to meet French commitments, particularly within NATO, in a context of hardening of operations around the world and an increase in the risk of major clashes. The battle tank is indeed a central capacity in the terrestrial environment thanks to its decisive firepower and its great mobility.

The SCORPION program

The SCORPION program is intended to renew and modernize the Army's contact combat capabilities with modern, connected armor capable of collaborative combat through near real-time data exchange. It comprises:
• SICS (Système d’information du combat Scorpion) intended to ensure tactical coordination within the framework of collaborative combat;
• four new armored vehicles:
  - two multi-role armored vehicles available in several versions and intended to replace the Armored Front Vehicles (VAB) currently in service: the Griffon and the Serval;
  - an armored reconnaissance and combat vehicle, the Jaguar, intended to replace the light armored cavalry AMX10RC and ERC90 Sagaie as well as the VAB HOT;
  - the Combat Support Embedded Mortar (MEPAC, Mortier embarqué pour l’appui au combat), equipped with a 120mm mortar, intended for artillery sections;
• the renovation of the Leclerc combat tank (integration into the SCORPION system, reinforcement of the protection of the tank and increase of offensive capacities);
• an operational readiness system.