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The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) awarded a sixth contract amendment on the SCORPION programme to the consortium formed by Nexter, Arquus and Thales on 30 December.

The so-called MEPAC (the French acronym for Mounted Front-Line Support Mortar), covers the delivery of 54 additional GRIFFON VBMR multi-role armoured vehicles equipped with Thales' 120-mm Rifled Recoiled Mounted Mortar (2R2M) system, which increases the total number of GRIFFONs to be delivered under the SCORPION programme to 1,872.

Since consultations began in November 2018, the three industry partners have worked together and with the DGA to design a new version of the vehicle concept with artillery capabilities. The MEPAC system marks the first time the French Army will field the 2R2M, which is already in service in four other countries. The mounted mortar will provide added mobility and precision in front-line combat operations, as well as better protection for soldiers. The mortar has a strong reputation for its semi-automatic loading system and the precision of its rifled barrel, and has been combat-proven in numerous operational theatres. In addition to structural modifications to the system architecture, this new version will include significant changes to the onboard optronics and the vehicle's mobility systems.

The rear compartment will be modified to accommodate the weapon system, mortar operators and mission-ready ammunition. Roof hatches will add flexibility. Finally, as for the other versions of the GRIFFON VBMR, the consortium's value proposition includes a substantial support and configuration management component.

After qualification of the MEPAC variant, the DGA will take delivery of the first vehicles by the end of 2023, with the remaining deliveries scheduled between 2024 and 2027.

An artist’s concept of the GRIFFON MEPAC variant. (Image via Nexter)

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