Renault Trucks Defense (RTD) unveiled the latest member in its tactical ground vehicle family at the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS) on 28th March with a Technology Demonstrator specifically designed for the French Special Operations Command.
Exhibited alongside its 4x4 Sherpa special operations vehicle (SOV) and 4x4 Bastion Armoured Personnel Carriers, the Vehicle Leger Forces Speciales (VLFS) or Light Special Forces Vehicle was first unveiled in scale model form factor at Eurosatory, Paris in June 2016.
The French Special Operations Command has contracted RTD to supply a total of 241 VLFS to force components as part of a EUR250 million contract which also comprises delivery of Poids Lourds Des Forces Speciales (PLFS) or Heavy Special Forces Vehicles based on the Sherpa Light SOV. The French Special Forces are slated to receive a total inventory of 202 PLFS, RTD officials confirmed to MILITARY TECHNOLOGY.
The VLFS, which is designated at ‘Project VLFS’, comprises a payload of 1.3 tons with engine capacity as high as 200 HP, providing ground assault teams and special reconnaissance units with a maximum speed of 120 km per hour. The VLFS is capable of carrying up to four personnel including C4ISTAR (command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) mission suites, personal and specialist equipment as well as mounted light and medium machine guns.
Measuring 2m in width, the main operating benefit of the VLFS derives from its ability to be carried as an Internally Transportable Vehicle (ITV) on board rotary wing and fixed wing platforms providing increased range and mobility for Special Operations Task Groups. NATO and coalition SOF continue to favour such a concept of operation, allowing transport aircraft to tactically insert ground mobility teams into areas of operation before transiting to target areas by SOV with the additional benefit of increased protection, situation awareness through C4ISTAR technology and firepower.
On show at SOFINS for the first time, the vehicle was fitted with .50-cal heavy machine gun on ring mount as well as a 7.62mm medium machine gun in the commander’s position. The VLFS has been designed in Left Hand drive configuration and also featured a spare tyre attached to the rear of the platform as well as ammunition storage capacity behind the weapons mount.
Additionally, the vehicle illustrated enough payload capacity for the integration of specialist C4ISTAR mission suites dependent upon customer and mission preferences.
Both vehicles have been designed to replace legacy SOVs currently in service with French Special Forces including Panhard Véhicule de Patrouille Spéciale (VPS), ACMAT VLRA, Auverland A3F platforms and Peugeot P4 SOVs.
Industry sources explained to MILITARY TECHNOLOGY how the vehicle is currently undergoing a series of trials and evaluation serials with force components from the Special Operations command with first deliveries to operational end users expected to begin by the end of 2018.
By the end of 2016, the French Special Operations Command had received a total of 25 PLFS SOVs as part of a rapid requirement for operations in Mali and elsewhere in Africa where force elements continue to conduct direct action, special reconnaissance and military assistance operations in support of indigenous security forces.