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Nexter awarded order for 50 Leclerc MBTs renovated to XLR standard.

| 2023

On 29 December 2022, the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) awarded Nexter an order for 50 renovated Leclerc tanks to the XLR standard.
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Leclerc XLR displayed at Eurosatory 2022 in Paris (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Industrial qualification tests are continuing in close collaboration with the DGA and the French army. The first XLR prototype tank was delivered to the DGA at the end of 2022, and the first 18 operational tanks will be delivered to the Army in 2023, according to the planning of the renovation contract awarded to Nexter on 1 June 2021.

The first objective of this renovation is to integrate the Leclerc main battle tank, known as "XLR", into the SCORPION collaborative warfare system with a new combat and information system (SICS). The XLR is equipped with the CONTACT radio and the vetronics common to the other SCORPION vehicles (Griffon, Jaguar and Serval). In addition, its protection and offensive capabilities are raised to the highest level, thanks to enhanced protection against mines and rockets, the addition of a 7.62 mm remotely operated weapon station for urban combat, and the development of a new fire control system with the ability to fire programmable ammunition.

To say more, 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 is equipped with a remotely operated weapon station manufactured by the Belgian company FN Herstal, 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 benefits from 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.

SCORPION programme

Let us recall that the SCORPION programme 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.

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 GTIAs have notably proven their efficiency during the French intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, due to their strong organizational flexibility.

The Leclerc tank, operational since 1993

The Leclerc main battle tank has been deployed by the French Army in overseas operations in Lebanon, Estonia and, since recently, in Romania. Nexter has been maintaining it in operational condition in the Army's training parks since the implementation of a vertical support contract signed in 2010.

The Leclerc tank is a 3rd generation 60-ton-class tank, manufactured by Nexter in Roanne until July 2008. Its crew is composed of 3 operators: the tank commander, the gunner and the pilot. It is armed with a 120 mm smoothbore gun and a 12.7 mm coaxial machine gun. the French army has a total of 222 Leclerc MBTs. 200 of them will be renovated to the XLR standard for the Army by 2029.

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