STUTTGART, Germany – The French Ministry of Defense on Thursday received the first four new multi-purpose armored vehicles VBMR Serval, the third vehicle to be delivered under the national Scorpion program to replace combat vehicles.

The 4×4, built by Nexter and Texelis as part of a temporary joint operation, is expected to replace VAB armored personnel carriers from the 1970s, ministry spokesman Herve Granjan told a news conference on Thursday. Weighing between 15 and 17 tons, the Servals will be a lighter armored vehicle designed primarily for the Army’s 27th Infantry Mountain Brigade and the 11th Parachute Brigade, he said.

The ministry has ordered 364 Serval so far and expects to purchase 978 vehicles by 2030, for Grandjean. Seventy cars are scheduled for delivery in 2022. The contract was finalized in January 2021through the French army’s public procurement agency, the Direction generale de l’armement (DGA).

French Defense Minister Florence Parley welcomed the initial deliveries in a statement, saying Serval’s production was moving “at a steady pace”. She introduced VBMR for the first time – and revealed his cat’s name – at the 2018 Eurosatory conference in Parisand said French forces were eagerly awaiting his arrival.

“In a rapidly changing strategic environment, when the war returns to the European continent, the modernization of key equipment is essential for the credibility of the French armed forces,” Parley said in a statement Thursday.

The VBMR is one of four next-generation vehicles developed under the French Scorpion program, along with the larger 24-tonne Griffon armored personnel carrier and its version of the MEPAC mortar, as well as the Jaguar reconnaissance and combat vehicle. France expects to purchase 1,872 griffins (including 54 MEPAC variants), 978 servals and 300 jaguars by 2030.

All vehicles will be connected through a new battlefield communication and management system called the Scorpion Combat Information System (SICS). They were built at Nexter’s facilities in Roanne, in the French Loire Valley.

Griffon and Serval will replace the obsolete French VAB carriers designed by Renault, while Jaguar will replace three current vehicles: the AMX-10RC, manufactured by Giat, the Panhard ERC and the VAB HOT armored vehicles.

France began receiving Griffon vehicles in 2019; and the ministry expects 113 deliveries by the end of 2022. Jaguar’s initial deliveries began in 2021 and 18 are expected by the end of the year.

Vivien Machi is a reporter based in Stuttgart, Germany, who contributes to the European coverage of Defense News. She has previously reported for National Defense Magazine, Defense Daily, Via Satellite, Foreign Policy and Dayton Daily News. She was named the best young defense journalist at the Defense Media Awards in 2020.

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