The French Defence Ministry has launched the initial development stage of the SCORPION joint integrated development project, which will unite several programmes to modernise the army’s eight combined arms brigades.

The integrated development project is designed to upgrade the aging fleet of armoured fighting vehicles, to improve the protection of men and equipment as well as to increase the effectiveness of soldiers and weapons systems by integrating information systems and combat vehicles.

The design phase of the Scorpion programme will run until 2012 with the objective of completing the project’s first phase by 2020.

The completion of the first phase will include deliveries of nearly 1,000 VBMR (véhicule blindé multirôle) multirole armoured vehicles replacing the wheeled armoured vehicles.

The deliveries also include 70 new armoured reconnaissance and combat vehicles (EBRC) to replace the AMX ten RC and ERC-90 Sagaie vehicles, and
modernisation of the Leclerc tanks.

The Scorpion programme will enable the French Army to generate up to 18 fully integrated and digitised Scorpion combined tactical combat groups, equipped with combat information networks, related digitalisation kits, infantry combat vehicles and the Félin future soldier programme.

The budget for the initial phase of Scorpion is estimated at €5bn ($6.7bn) and will run until 2020 while the total value of the entire Scorpion program is over €10bn ($13.5bn) and is expected to run until 2025.