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Thales combines lightweight sensors on specialist target designator vehicle

20th June 2024 - 10:45 GMT | by Christopher F Foss in Paris


The Griffon Vehicule d’Observation d’Artillerie has been developed under the leadership of Thanes and is already in production for the French Army. (Photo: author)

The 6x6 Griffon VOA specialist vehicle uses a mix of mast-mounted electro-optics and radar to locate and designate targets primarily for French Army artillery batteries, but can also perform the same role for combat aircraft and helicopters. The Thales mission package is platform-agnostic and could be integrated on other vehicle families for export.

The Griffon 6x6 platform is rapidly replacing the VAB 4x4 APC and its many specialised variants in the French Army. One of the latest versions accepted for service is the Vehicule d’Observation d’Artillerie (VOA) which is being shown at Eurosatory for the first time.

Griffon VOA has already passed French Army tests with the first production run consisting of 55 units against a total requirement of 117. It will also be supplied to Belgium.

Prime contractor for the VOA is Thales, which claims it provides a step-change in target acquisition capability compared to the old VAB VOA.

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To engage targets at long range the Griffon VOA is fitted with a retractable mast-mounted sensor pack which when fully extended is 6m high. This integrates day/night cameras, an eye-safe laser rangefinder and a laser designator and is under armour when retracted.

The VOA is also equipped with a lightweight Thales MURIN (aka Ground Observer 12) surveillance radar which is said to be able to detect air, land and sea targets out to around 24km. This can also be dismounted for ground use.

In addition to designating targets for engagement by artillery, mortars or rocket launchers it can do the same for combat aircraft and helicopters.

Inside are workstations for the crew and standard equipment includes an inertial navigation system

For self-protection it is fitted with an Arquus Hornet remote weapon station on the roof at the front which is armed with a 12.7mm machine gun and banks of electrically operated smoke grenade launchers.

While the French Army has selected the Griffon chassis for this mission it would be possible to fit the sensor package on other platforms as Thales is systems integrator.

As many countries look to replace or enhance their long-range fires, a mobile system such as this would be a way to augment existing artillery batteries' ability to detect and engage, and its platform-agnostic nature means an additional baseline vehicle type would not need to be procured.

Shephard's Eurosatory 2024 coverage is sponsored by:

BAE Systems

VBMR Griffon (France)

Belgium Griffon Light Common Armoured Vehicle Platform


Griffon VBMR


Christopher F Foss


Christopher F Foss

Christopher F Foss is an internationally recognised authority on armoured fighting vehicles, artillery and other weapon systems, …

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