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France and Belgium Collaborate For Development Of New VBAE Armored Vehicle Project.

| 2023

In a significant move towards bolstering European defense capabilities, France and Belgium have embarked on a collaborative venture to develop a new versatile combat armored vehicle, the VBAE (Véhicule Blindé d’Aide à l’Engagement or Armored Engagement Support Vehicle). This initiative officially was announced on December 6, 2023, in Montrouge, France.
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Artist rendering of future VBAE wheeled armored vehicle. (Picture source French Army DGA)

The OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d'Armement or Joint Organisation for Armaments Cooperation) has been entrusted with conducting a feasibility study for the VBAE. This study will be in partnership with notable industrial players including French companies Arquus and KNDS Nexter, and the Belgian company John Cockerill Defense will serve as a subcontractor.

This project marks a pivotal phase in the Scorpion program, aimed at updating the French army's ground forces equipment, particularly focusing on replacing the current fleet of Light Armored Vehicles (VBL).

The initiative stems from a strategic partnership signed on November 7, 2018, between Belgium and France. Under this partnership, Belgium had previously acquired various French-developed defense vehicles and systems. However, the VBAE project represents a deeper level of collaboration, with both nations actively participating from the pre-design phase to ensure the vehicle meets their specific operational needs.

The VBAE is envisioned to be a groundbreaking addition to modern military equipment. It is expected to be a light and fast vehicle, equipped with advanced sensors and capable of operating undetected in various environments. Its design focuses on providing robust protection for the crew and the capability to neutralize lightly armored vehicles.

Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder expressed her enthusiasm for the project, highlighting its importance for the future of European defense. She stressed the project's alignment with her vision of involving the Belgian defense industrial base in future capability developments through European multinational partnerships. Dedonder emphasized that this project not only strengthens the Franco-Belgian strategic partnership but also contributes significantly to European defense.

Defense News December 2023

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