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France Orders 53 High-Mobility Vehicles from Hagglunds AB
Defense Minister Hervé Morin announced the order of 53 Vehicules de Haute Mobilité (VHM) for the French Army. It is the first installment of a contract valued at 220 million euros awarded on December 18, 2009 by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) to the Swedish company Hägglunds AB, a unit of BAE Systems. In all, France will order 129 VHM. Part of the manufacturing work on the VHM will be subcontracted to the French company Panhard.
VHM is armored tracked vehicle (length 7.6 meters) consisting of separate 2 hulls hinged together by an assembly system enabling it to travel over rough terrain. It has a payload capacity exceeding 5 tonnes. The VHM is being procured in 3 versions: troop carrier, command post and logistical carrier.
The troop carrier version can carry up to 12 combatants, including 11 infantry FELIN equipped with their individual and collective weapons (including missiles, rockets and mortars), radio systems and operational information service in the forces. Depending on the version, each VHM will be fitted with a 12.7mm or 7.62mm machine-gun for self-defense.
The VHM meets the needs of the Army to have a capacity to intervene in difficult terrain (mountainous, hilly, wooded) or very unstable surfaces (snow, sand, swamp) and having an amphibious capability. Its exceptional mobility enables it to bypass highway routes that constitute potential tactical traps, and to carry units to areas inaccessible to wheeled vehicles. The VHM offer soldiers embedded protection against a wide range of threats, particularly against small arms ammunition, infantry rocket-launchers (RPGs), mines and IEDs.
An innovative method of support was included in the contract, empowering the industrial prime contractor to deliver the "right spare parts at the right time and right place," with payments based on the attainment of reliability targets and adjusted to the number of miles actually traveled by vehicles in service.
Three pre-production vehicles will undergo from late 2010 qualification testing in various DGA and Army test centers. Production deliveries are scheduled from 2011 to late 2014, and the vehicles will eventually equip a combined tactical battle group (GTIA) specialized in operations in particularly difficult terrain.
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