French Company ARQUUS presents new APC Fortress Mk 2 - Sherpa Light Scout - VAB Mk III at E-XPO Defense

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On June 8, 2020, the French company ARQUUS launched its virtual Defense expo E-XPO to showcase its latest innovations of tactical, combat and armored vehicles, as well as support services despite the cancellation of Eurosatory 2020. Today, the Army Recognition editorial team is focusing on armored vehicles presented by ARQUUS at the virtual E-XPO, which means Fortress APC Mk 2, Sherpa Light Scout, and VAB Mk 3.
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ARQUUS Fortress Mk II 4x4 APC Armored Personnel Carrier vehicle (Picture source ARQUUS)

Over the years, the French company ARQUUS (previously Renault Trucks Defense) gained considerable experience in the development and manufacturing of armored, tactical and logistical wheeled vehicles. Nowadays, ARQUUS offers a complete range of armored personnel carriers and tactical military trucks in 4x4, 6x6 and 8x8 configurations, up to 32 metric tones.

Rich of one hundred years of combat-proven experience, Renault Trucks Defense was the heir of Berliet and Renault, two manufacturers that played a crucial role for the French army during World Wars 1 and 2. The company is still a major supplier to the French army with internationally-recognized know-how implemented throughout more than 30,000 military vehicles in operation worldwide.

The new vehicle unveiled by ARQUUS on its virtual exhibition Defense E-XPO is the Fortress Mk 2. The Fortress is a new generation of 4x4 APC (Armored Personnel Carrier), an evolution of the Fortress Mk 1, previously called Bastion HM (High Mobility). The Bastion APC was developed using the chassis of the combat-proven light tactical truck VLRA manufactured by the French company ACMAT, now part of ARQUUS.

The Fortress Mk 1 is an up-armored Bastion, with a more powerful engine developing 340 hp and fitted with an independent suspension to improve its mobility. The vehicle is available in two variants: APC and cargo. The Fortress has a Level 2 STANAG 4569 ballistic and mine protection.

The Fortress Mk 2 is an improved version of the Mk 1 offering more ballistic and mine protection to STANAG 4569 Level 3 while maintaining the weight of 14,500 kg of the previous Fortress Mk.1. It features a monocoque armored structure with a V-shaped hull. The purpose of V-hulls is to increase vehicle and crew survivability by deflecting an upward-oriented blast from a landmine or IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) away from the vehicle, while also presenting a sloped armor face. By presenting its armor at an angle, it increases the amount of material a ballistic projectile must pass through in order to penetrate the vehicle, and increases the chance of deflection.

The design of the Fortress Mk 2 is divided into three main sections: engine at the front, crew in the middle (including driver and commander), and the troop compartment at the rear, designed to accommodate 9 infantrymen.

The Fortress Mk 2 is powered by an MD7 6-cylinder Diesel engine developing 340 hp coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission. It can reach a top speed of 120 km/h, with a maximum cruising range of 1,200 km.

French Company ARQUUS presents new APCs Fortress Mk 2 Sherpa light VAB Mk III at virtual E XPO Defense 925 003
ARQUUS Sherpa Light Scout 4x4 APC Armored Personnel Carrier vehicle (Picture source ARQUUS)

Defense E-XPO is also an opportunity for ARQUUS to present other armored vehicles like the Sherpa Light Scout and the VAB Mk 3. So far, ARQUUS has already produced 1,000 Sherpa armored vehicles. The Sherpa family includes four base models: the Sherpa Scout, an armored vehicle for liaison and reconnaissance seating 4 or 5 soldiers, also available in a Station Wagon version; the Carrier, fitted for troop or communication systems transport; the APC, for protected troop transport; and the Sherpa Special Forces, designed for missions behind enemy lines.

The Sherpa is in service with the armed forces of Chile, Lebanon and Kuwait. An Assault Ladder version was developed by ARQUUS in 2014 to provide security forces with unprecedented capabilities in the fight against organized crime and terrorism. India, the Brazilian Federal Police, as well as the French GIGN (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) selected that version.

The Sherpa Light is a family of 4x4 tactical and light armored vehicles designed, developed and manufactured by ARQUUS. The vehicle was unveiled in June 2006 during the Eurosatory defense exhibition in Paris.

The layout of the Sherpa Light Scout is conventional: engine at the front, crew and troop compartment in the middle, and the cargo area at the rear. There are two seats at the front for the driver and the commander, and two or three seats at the rear. There are two doors on each side of the vehicle with small bulletproof windows and a firing port. It can carry a total of 4 to 5 soldiers.

The Sherpa Light Scout can be fitted with an open-top turret or a remote-controlled weapon station (RCWS) armed with weapons of up to 12,7 mm caliber. The hull of the vehicle can be fitted with armor plates to provide protection against firing of small arms and artillery shell splinters. The roof of the vehicle can be fitted with a manually-operated turret or a remotely operated weapon station armed with a machine gun of up to 12.7mm caliber.

The Sherpa Light Scout can be motorized with a Deutz 1013 or Renault MD5 4-cylinder Diesel engine coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission. It can reach 110 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 800 km.

French Company ARQUUS presents new APCs Fortress Mk 2 Sherpa light VAB Mk III at virtual E XPO Defense 925 002
ARQUUS VAB Mk III 6x6 APC Armored Personnel Carrier vehicle (Picture source ARQUUS)

The VAB Mk 3 is the latest member of the VAB family of armored vehicles in service with the French Army since 1976. More than 5,000 VABs have been produced in 30 different versions so far. ARQQUS has delivered VAB Mk 3s to an undisclosed country in the Middle East. These 6x6 armored vehicles offer more mobility, protection and payload than the previous VABs. The vehicle can be configured to be used as an armored personnel carrier (APC), an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), a command post (CP), an ambulance, a 120mm mortar carrier, or a reconnaissance vehicle.

The layout of the VAB mark 3 is similar to the standard and original version: engine at the front, crew compartment in the middle and troop compartment at the rear. The vehicle includes many new features and improvements. The vehicle benefits from a new armor which provides an enhanced protection Level 4 STANAG 4569 to the crew and the soldiers. The VAB Mark 3 provides also a mine/IED protection now usually found on MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles. The vehicle can carry 3 crew members (driver, commander and gunner) and 7 infantrymen.

The VAB Mark 3 can be equipped with a wide range of turrets or remotely-controlled weapon systems up to a 30 mm automatic cannon. The rear of the troop compartment is now equipped with a hydraulic ramp enabling soldiers to quickly enter and leave the vehicle.

The VAB Mk 3 is motorized with a Renault six-cylinder MD7 Diesel engine developing 340 hp coupled to an automatic transmission with 6 forward gears and 1 reverse gear. It can reach 100 km/h, with a maximum cruising range of 800 km.