Hyundai Venue and MG Hector were one of the first vehicles launched in India which had networking capability. While these capabilities can make the life easy as in remote starting the AC and over the air (OTA) update of infotainment system software, there are other networking capabilities for vehicles which can save lives and win wars.

The French Army is developing a communication backbone which can allow sensors on various manned and unmanned vehicles to talk to each other and also assist in decision support. The system is called Scorpion. This system networks the various electromagnetic, optical and acoustic sensors to get a clear picture of the battle field. This system not only links the sensors of ground based vehicles but also of any aviation assets which may be operating closely with the vehicles.

The system not only detects the enemy, it also automatically transmits information and data to the various components in the networked unit. In case of unmanned vehicles it gives instructions for move and fight actions also.

Sensors of assets which can see far, like sensors on an aircraft or helicopter would forewarn the unit about the hidden enemy. Based on the input, appropriate land based vehicle may move in position to get a better picture. In case the network assess that the vehicle may be in danger, it also advises the weapon or countermeasure to be deployed and the direction in which the vehicle should move to protect itself. Thereafter, using the sensors from various units in the network, the system triangulates and gives the accurate position of the enemy, decides which asset should be deployed to engage and destroy the enemy and suggests the same to the commander.

The system does not only comprise the network backbone and systems but also a set on new or upgraded vehicles which have been developed for working with this system. These vehicles comprise troop-carrying vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, protected mortars and main battle tanks.

The first vehicle is a new armoured troop carrier called the Serval. The Serval is built by a partnership between Nexter and Texelis. This vehicle can carry a squad of eight, including a driver and a gunner over long distances off road at speed. The vehicle features a V-shaped hull made from Aluminium for increased blast resistance. There would be 16 different variants for different roles. At present, the three known variants are the armoured patrol vehicle, tactical communication node, and surveillance, acquisition, intelligence, acknowledgement vehicle. The French Army has ordered 2,038 vehicles with deliveries commencing in 2022.

Servel – Image Courtesy Nexter

The next vehicle is the Griffon, which has been developed by Nexter, Arquus, Thales and Renault Trucks. This is a 6×6 vehicle which would be either used as an armoured vehicle, as a troop carrier alongside the Serval, as an Ambulance or a mobile command post. One of the interesting versions is the MEPAC, which is a protected mortar vehicle. This vehicle will carry a Thales’s 120-mm 2R2M mortar system. This vehicle allows the troops to provide mortar support without disembarking from the vehicle. The French Army has ordered 1,872 vehicles including 54 MEPAC. Delivery of some versions has started in 2018.

Griffon- Image Courtesy Nexter

The main fire power to the Scorpion groups would be provided by 200 newly upgraded Lecrec Main Battle Tanks. These tanks have been installed with upgraded armour, a new remote weapons system, new sensors, grenade launchers and computer systems to allow the tank to interface with the other new acquisitions in the fleet.

Lecrec MBT- Image Courtesy Nexter

The final component of the system is the Jaguar reconnaissance and combat vehicles. No they are not made by Jaguar but by a consortium of Nexter, Arquus and Thales. The Jaguars come with a suite of sensors which would be used to guide and protect a French armoured troop movement. The sensor suite comprises acoustic sensors, laser warning detectors and a missile launch detector. These sensors not only warn the personnel inside the vehicle of the impending threat, but also warn other vehicles in the formation.The Griffon and Jaguar share approximately 70% of their parts to ease the logistics of maintaining these vehicles.

Jaguar- Image Courtesy Nexter