The Serval véhicule blindé multi-rôles (VBMR) is a 4×4 multi-role armoured vehicle manufactured by French state-owned defence systems integrator Nexter Systems in collaboration with mobility solutions provider Texelis. The vehicle is intended for deployment in the primary contact area on the battlefield to engage light units.
The Serval light armoured multi-role vehicle (VBMR-L) was developed to meet the light vehicle requirement of the French Army under the Scorpion programme.
Serval VBMR development
The Nexter and Texelis team was awarded a contract by the French procurement agency Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) for the development, production, and maintenance of a Light VBMR troop carrier in February 2018. The country’s defence budget for 2019-2025 calls for the procurement of more than 2,000 Light VBMRs for the French Land Forces by 2030, of which 689 vehicles are anticipated to be received by 2025.
Nexter is responsible to build the armoured chassis and integrate the systems, while Texelis provides axles and drive trains for mobility packages. The driveline solution will provide increased mobility in challenging environments and enhance protection.
The DGA placed an order for the first batch of 364 Serval vehicles in December 2020. The first 12 units are expected to be delivered in the first half of 2022, followed by the next 96 vehicles in the second half of 2022. The French Army is expected to induct a fleet of 978 Serval Scorpion vehicles by the end of 2030.
Testing of the platform began in 2019, while ten prototype vehicles are currently undergoing qualification tests. Texelis transitioned the programme from the prototype phase to production phase within 18 months.
Serval VBMR light armoured vehicle design and features
The Serval VBMR features modular architecture, which allows it to be assembled in different configurations. It provides strategic mobility, flexibility, and payload carrying capacity and can operate in combat zones.
The vehicle has a gross weight of 17t and can achieve a maximum range of 600km and a maximum speed of 90km/h.
The platform will complement Griffon engins blindé multi-rôle (EBMR) and Jaguar engin blindé de reconnaissance et de combat (EBRC) of the French Army.
Mission capabilities of VBMR
The Serval can be used to transport light infantry, intelligence, and reconnaissance units in contact zones on the battlefield. It will be deployed by the French rapid reaction force.
The vehicle will be available in three different variants, including armoured patrol vehicle (VPB), tactical communication node (NCT), and surveillance, acquisition, intelligence, and acknowledgment (SA2R).
Serval VBMR mission equipment and systems
The vehicles under the Scorpion programme will have a high degree of commonality in their integrated equipment.
Serval VBMR is equipped with the SCORPION Combat Information System (SICS), which supports collective combat capabilities by ensuring communication between all the platforms and weapons systems of the Scorpion network. The SICS enables automatic exchange of data and timely decision-making by the group leaders of the military regiments.
Serval VBMR will also be integrated with a remote machine gun operated from the cabin, threat detectors, and a contact radio station.
Scorpion programme details
The Scorpion programme is promulgated by the French Defence Ministry for the development of scalable and flexible tactical systems to meet the French Army’s present and future operational needs.
In addition to armoured vehicles, the programme will include drones and robots for integration into the combat system to deliver a collaborative combat capability. The programme will upgrade the combat capabilities of the combined arms battle group of the French defence forces.
The Scorpion programme was demonstrated by the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade of the French Army at the Présentation des capacités de l’armée de Terre (PCAT) event in October 2020.
It includes three new armoured vehicles – Griffon, Jaguar, and Serval. The remaining operational objectives are the upgrade of Leclerc main battle tank, development of the SICS information system, and the operational readiness system.
The 2019-2025 military programming act envisions the delivery of 50% of the new median armoured vehicles by 2025.
The Scorpion programme will include the procurement of 1,872 Griffon armoured vehicles, 300 Jaguar armoured vehicles, 978 Serval VBMRs, and 200 modernised Leclerc tanks.