French VAB TOP APCs in action during Operation Barkhane in Sahel

The TOP version of the VAB (Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé) was developed by Arquus for the operations carried on in Afghanistan. These VABs are intensively used in the Sahel region by the French army for Operation Barkhane carried on against terrorist groups.
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Arquus VBL and Arquus VAB TOP in action in Sahel for Operation Barkhane (Picture source: French Army)

The TOP standard of the Arquus VAB includes increased protection for the vehicle with the addition of additional armor, and a Kongsberg Protector TTO (therefore not Arquus) allowing the shooter to stay safe in all circumstances. These VABs, like the others, will be replaced by VBMR Griffons (GME Arquus, Nexter and Thales) and Serval (Nexter and Texelis) which will be equipped with TTO T1 and T2 designed and manufactured by Arquus.

On April 30, 2008, the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) notified Renault Trucks Defense (former name of Arquus) of an order letter of 20 Mn € for the development and integration of 60 remotely controlled turrets in VABs of the Army (TOP stands for TéléOPéré, remotely controlled). These turrets would allow the shooter to use a 12.7mm machine gun while remaining protected inside the vehicle, in particular against the threat of improvised explosive devices, snipers, and in the event of accidents leading the vehicles to roll upside down.

The control of the turret is implemented from inside the tank using a "joystick". This system is completed by a laser rangefinder and two cameras. Since 2011, these VAB TOP are equipped with the PILARw system, developed by the company 01dB-Metravib. This device automatically detects and locates small arms, mortars and RPG rocket launchers. The shooter's location is then displayed in 3D and almost in real-time, which improves the response capacity.