The French Minister of Defence has announced an order for 15 Aravis wheeled armoured vehicles from Nexter Systems in a deal worth €20m.

The defence procurement agency, DGA (Délégation Générale pour l’Armement) awarded Nexter Systems the contract, of which €15m are financed by the economic recovery funds.

The contract calls for the supply of Aravis heavily armoured vehicles designed for the reconnaissance and clearance of battlefield routes. The vehicles will be operated by combat engineer units which escort Buffalo and Souvim armoured vehicles employed for route clearance and for counter-IED (improvised explosive devices) operations.

Aravis is a four-wheeled, air-transportable armoured vehicle weighing 12.45t and designed with a high degree of protection against mines and IEDs. The vehicle is capable of carrying up to seven combat engineers.

The vehicle is intended to react to direct attack and is equipped with a remotely operated weapons mount fitted with a 12.7mm machine gun, similar to those fitted to the VAB TOP armoured personnel carriers deployed in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year.

To carry out its reconnaissance missions, the Aravis is equipped with seven remotely operated cameras in addition to the camera fitted to its weapon station. Its crew can thus monitor its immediate environment over 360° from the safety of its crew comportment.

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The first vehicles will be delivered by Nexter Systems to DGA before the end of 2009. Their crews and maintenance personnel will begin training as soon as the first vehicles are delivered.