French army to receive 122 modernized Main Battle Tanks Leclerc XLR by 2025

According to information published on the "Armée de Terre" French army Twitter account on October 31, 2022, currently, the French army has a total of 222 Leclerc MBT (Main Battle Tank) and for 2025, 122 Leclerc tanks will be renovated to the standard Leclerc XLR.
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French Leclerc XLR MBT Main Battle Tank was unveiled by the French company Nexter Systems during Eurosatory defense exhibition in Paris, in June 2022. (Picture source Army Recognition)

The modernization of the Leclerc MBT (Main Battle Tank) to the standard Leclerc XLR is part of an ambitious modernization program of the French army called Scorpion program which consists of a $6.8 billion multi-company modernization effort aimed at replacing all French frontline fighting vehicles, with improved platforms linked with a new and unified communications and battlefield management system (BMS). This BMS is underpinned by the concept of “collaborative combat,” which seeks to connect squads, vehicles, battle groups and brigades in a single network (Defense News, 2016).

Overall, the Scorpion Program mostly intends to upgrade a set of aging land vehicles and systems, while preserving France’s industrial base. This program appears to be essential for France, as it will permit the country to modernize its joint tactical battalions (or Groupement tactique interarmes, GTIA), which already allow the Army to coordinate the actions and the expertise of each branch of the land forces, under the single command of a central regiment (French Ministry of the Armed Forces, 2018). These battalions are then able to conduct coordinated actions in order to reach tactical goals assigned during a military intervention. These GTIA have notably proven their efficiency during the French intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, due to their strong organizational flexibility.

Incorporated into the land forces modernization plan of 2020, the Scorpion program aims at renewing, from 2018 onwards, the median contact battle capabilities of two platforms, namely the Multi-role armored vehicles and Armored Reconnaissance and Combat vehicle, (in French VBMR and EBRC) and the unique combat information system known as “SCORPION” (SICS).

The Scorpion program of the French army includes the acquisition of:

- 1,872 Griffon 6x6 armored vehicles will be delivered by 2033
- 2,038 SERVAL 4x4 armored vehicles by 2034
- 300 JAGUAR 6x6 reconnaissance and combat armored vehicles by 2030
- 200 upgraded Leclerc XLR MBTs by 2027. The first order of 50 Leclerc XLR tanks has been notified on June 1, 2021. The deliveries will take place between 2021 and 2024
- 54 MEPAC Griffon self-propelled 120mm mortar carrier by 2027

French army to receive 122 modernized Main Battle Tanks Leclerc XLR by 2025 925 002
The Leclerc XLR tank will provide more mobility, firepower, and protection. (Picture source army Recognition)

The Leclerc Scorpion or XLR is a modernized version of the French-made Leclerc Main Battle Tank (MBT) designed and manufactured by the French Company Nexter Systems. The upgraded Leclerc MBT will have more firepower and protection.

The Leclerc XLR keeps the original main armament of the standard Leclerc which consists of a Giat 120 mm 52 caliber smoothbore gun designated the CN 120-26. The roof of the turret will be equipped now with a remotely operated weapon station manufactured by the Belgian company FN Herstal which will be armed with a 7.62mm machine gun.

The Leclerc Scorpion is upgraded with a new armor package that includes additional modular armor on the hull and the turret. The front part of the hull side is protected by thick passive armor, while the rear part is fitted with wire cage armor to protect the engine compartment against attacks of RPGs (Rocket-Propelled Grenade). The rear part of the hull is also fitted with wire cage armor.

The Leclerc XLR MBT will be equipped with an open electronic architecture, the new Contact tactical radio system, NBC protection system, night vision equipment and the SCORPION Information and Command System (SICS) and associated displays. The renovated Leclerc will be also fitted with the Barage counter-IED jammer, Scorpion diagnostic test device, coupling of inertial navigation and GPS system, new man-machine interfaces for commander and gunner, redesign of main system computers, and health and usage monitoring system.