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France secretly delivered at least 22 Bastion 4x4 APCs to Armenia.

| 2023

According to Arbalet Intelligence on November 12, 2023, France secretly supplied Armenia with a shipment of at least 22 French Bastion 4x4 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) along with accompanying equipment. The evidence supporting this claim emerged when Azerbaijani media released images of these French armored vehicles, cleverly adorned in Armenian camouflage, discovered on the loading dock in Poti, Georgia.
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Azerbaijani media released images of a secret delivery of French Bastion 4x4 APCs to Armenia, discovered on the loading dock in Poti, Georgia. (Picture source: Twitter)

On the night of November 12, 2023, images surfaced depicting French Bastion 4x4 APCs being loaded at the Georgian port of Poti. Despite these developments, there has been no official statement from Tbilisi on this matter. Given the time required for photo analysis and evidence collection, it is conceivable that the shipment already arrived in Armenia.

According to News AM on November 14, 2023, APM Terminals Poti, the operator of the Poti Sea Port in Georgia, has confirmed the transit of the batch of French Bastion 4x4 APCs, to Armenia. The cargo, received from France, an EU member state, was destined for Armenia, a country not subject to sanctions.

The company stated that, in the absence of clear instructions and restrictions from the Georgian government, they were compelled to accept the cargo, as Armenia does not fall under any sanctions. The company's statement suggests adherence to legal and regulatory procedures in handling the transit of military equipment through the Poti Sea Port.

This shipment may include the 24 Bastion 4x4 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) that Arquus Defense had intended for delivery to Ukraine. As per a tweet dated April 6, 2023, discussions on this matter have been ongoing for a considerable period, though no conclusive agreement had been reached as of the publication date. According to certain sources, Kyiv assessed these vehicles as inadequately safeguarded against artillery and anti-tank missiles, resulting in their rerouting to Armenia.

The Bastion APC, recognized for its export-oriented design, has found deployment in various Sub-Saharan and West African countries, mainly due to its perceived cost-effectiveness. Notably, these vehicles are customizable with armaments, primarily Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs), leading to speculation that Armenian engineers might equip NSV/Kord HMGs on the APCs.

The method of transporting French military equipment to Armenia sparked controversy, particularly given Georgia's proximity to Turkey and Azerbaijan. Despite initial concerns, it seems that Georgia yielded to pressure and allowed its ports to facilitate the export of French arms to Armenia, prompting questions about potential future arms exports from France to Armenia, which could include a shipment of 50 VAB armored vehicles, possibly in the Mk3 variant.

The decision to supply military aid to Armenia comes in response to Azerbaijan's swift military victory in reclaiming the region of Haut-Karabagh in September 2023. France responded affirmatively to Armenia's later request for military assistance, as confirmed during a visit by Catherine Colonna, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Erevan on October 3, 2023.

During the visit, agreements were reached between the Armenian Minister of Defense, Suren Papikyan, and his French counterpart, Sébastien Lecornu. These agreements paved the way for swift deliveries of military equipment, including the Bastion APCs. The deliveries also included three Thales Ground Master 200 radars, a short-range Mistral air defense system, and night vision goggles manufactured by Safran.

The Azeri response to France's arms deliveries to Armenia has been one of condemnation. Ayhan Hajizade, the spokesperson for the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, criticized the arms supply, calling for an end to the arms race in the region and emphasizing the need for peace and cooperation.

Weighing 12 tons, the Bastion APC is a 4×4 armored personnel carrier vehicle produced by the French company ACMAT, a subsidiary of ARQUUS (formerly Renault Trucks Defense). Unveiled in June 2010 during the Eurosatory defense exhibition in France, it incorporates blast protection technology with the mobility of a light armored vehicle. The vehicle has a crew of two and can accommodate up to 8 infantrymen.

The roof of the Bastion APC can be fitted with a one-man open-top turret or a remotely operated weapon station, which can be armed with a 7.62mm or a 12.7mm machine gun. The Bastion APC is powered by a Diesel engine developing 215 hp coupled to a 6-speed mechanical or 5-speed automatic transmission. It can run at a maximum road speed of 110 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 1,000 km.

France Arquus Acmat Bastion 4x4 APC Armenia 925 002

The Bastion is a 4x4 armored personnel carrier produced by the French company ARQUUS. (Picture source Army Recognition)


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