The French Army proudly displayed its new wheeled combat vehicles, the Grizzly and the Serval, at the national military parade in Paris on July 14, 2023. The Serval, a multirole armored vehicle, will replace the aging VAB APC ( armored personnel carrier). For its part, the Grizzly, a light-wheeled reconnaissance and anti-tank vehicle, is specially designed for the needs of airborne troops.

The Serval multi-role armored vehicle was developed to meet the light vehicle needs of the French Army under the Scorpion program, launched in 2014. The initiative covers the introduction of new vehicles, the modernization of existing ones and the deployment of advanced security systems battle management to enhance information sharing and operational effectiveness.

The Scorpion program, initiated by the French Army, involves developing and deploying a series of new armored vehicles. One of them is the Griffon, a multi-purpose armored vehicle intended to replace the VAB (“Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé” or Vanguard Armored Vehicle), in service since the 1970s. 

The Jaguar is another key vehicle in this program. This armored reconnaissance and combat vehicle is expected to replace several older vehicles, such as the AMX-10RC/RCR and ERC-90 Sagaie reconnaissance vehicles and the VAB HOT anti-tank missile carriers.

In addition to these, the Serval, a multipurpose armored vehicle, is part of the Scorpion program. This vehicle is designed to replace the old VAB armored personnel carrier. In addition to the new vehicles, the program also sees upgrades to existing Leclerc main battle tanks to increase their capabilities and maintain their relevance on the modern battlefield.

As part of the Scorpion program, the French Army’s current Leclerc main battle tanks will receive major upgrades to increase their capabilities and ensure they remain effective on the modern battlefield under the Leclerc XLR name.

The Serval VBMR, with its modular design, offers the flexibility to adapt to various configurations. With its strategic versatility, high payload capacity and ability to function in active combat zones, it is an essential transport for light infantry, intelligence and reconnaissance units in battlefield contact zones. The French rapid reaction force plans to incorporate the Serval VBMR into its operations.

In addition, the Scorpion program encompasses the development of advanced systems and technology to enhance communication and information sharing between different units and vehicles. This includes initiatives such as the CONTACT radio and the SCORPION Combat Information System (SICS).

The French army debuts the Grizzly and Serval vehicles at the National Day military parade.
Reconnaissance and anti-trank vehicle of the Grizzly Light Airborne Troops of the French Army at the military parade rehearsal for French National Day on July 14, 2023.

The Grizzly is a light reconnaissance and anti-tank wheeled vehicle based on the Sherpa light tactical vehicle, developed and manufactured by the French company ARQUUS. It is based on a 4×4 chassis with an open-top architecture.

The Grizzly is an innovative military vehicle that has been expertly engineered for superior performance on the toughest terrain and through trenches. With high ground clearance and specifically calculated angles of attack, this vehicle shows unrivaled competence in rugged terrain.

Beneath its rugged exterior, the Grizzly houses a beefy engine capable of developing 265bhp. It is mated to an automatic transmission system that allows the vehicle to reach top speeds of 110 km/h. This makes it an incredibly mobile and versatile vehicle, with a high payload capacity for a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 11 tonnes.

Despite its large size, the Grizzly is still a compact vehicle. This quality makes it ideal for operations that require stealth, including deep infiltration and reconnaissance missions. In addition, it has been built to be compatible with air transport, easily loading into a C-130 Hercules or an Atlas A400M.

What sets the Grizzly apart is its ability to haul a wide variety of gear thanks to its inherent modularity. In its standard configuration, it is fitted with a ring mount capable of supporting heavy weaponry such as the 12.7mm M2HB or 40mm LGA cannon. It also has three mounts for 7.62mm machine guns, providing coverage from all angles. These automatic weapons endow the Grizzly with formidable firepower, making it an ideal choice for assault missions or heavy reconnaissance missions.

In short, the Grizzly represents a combination of power, flexibility and strategic design. This versatile vehicle performs impressively in rugged terrain, exhibits remarkable speed and packs considerable firepower, making it a truly indispensable asset in any military operation.

Alain Henry de Frahan