AMX Leclerc deployed in combat in Yemen

Jane’s has posted an article about how armored units from the UAE have spearheaded a breakthrough in the conflict in Yemen.  The Emirati armored brigade helped pro-government forces push out from the southern port city of Aden and capture Al-Anad Air Base 48 km to the northwest.  While the UAE did not publically announce the deployment of its armored forces in the conflict, it became apparent to astute observers that the vehicle types appearing in pictures indicated UAE involvement.  By the end of July, BMP-3 IFVs had been filmed by AL-Jazeera and in early August, news footage showed Leclerc MBTs advancing in a column.  Somewhat amusingly, one of the best quality videos that emerged of these Leclerc tanks is a clip from RT Ruptly which mistakenly identifies the vehicles as “Hundreds of Abraham M1 Abrams, provided by Saudi Arabia.”  This represents the first use of the Leclerc MBT in combat, although it had been previously used in peace keeping missions Kosovo and Lebanon by French forces.

Also identified have been the SPG Denel G6.  Video of this vehicle was taken during fighting for Anad airbase.

According to the Jane’s article, some of the Leclercs in Yemen are equipped with the AZUR urban warfare protection package. The UAE is known to have bought at least 13 AZUR kits, so the presence of Leclercs without the additional armor suggests a second battalion has been deployed to Yemen.  The Leclerc tanks operated by the UAE are known as the “tropicalised” variant, differing from French Army Leclerc in that the UAE vehicles have a MTU MT883 engine and Renk transmission rather than the French SACM V8X Hyperbar engine and  SESM ESM 500 transmission.

Photo gallery of UAE armored vehicles in Yemen

Book Alert: Char Leclerc

leclercNot sure how this one slipped past our radar, but last month Kagero Publishing released a new installment in their “Photosniper” series titled Char Leclerc.  This volume is written by M. P. Robinson, who also authored last years three Kagero books on the AMX-30 tanks and its derivatives.  As we noted in our book review on his AMX-30 titles, modern French tanks have not received much coverage in English language publications.  Hopefully this book will live up to the standard set by the earlier books in the Photosniper Kagero series.

Publishers Description:

The Leclerc is the only battle tank serving in operational combat units in the French Army. Designed as a Cold War era tank killer that could take on numerically superior enemies, the Leclerc has served the armies of France and the United Arab Emirates for over twenty years. Since 1989 when the first Leclerc prototype appeared, it has been counted amongst the world’s most complex and deadly AFVs. Despite its fame, relatively little has appeared on the Leclerc in English, and much of the information about the Leclerc on the web is incorrect. Even in French, it has been ten years since the Leclerc was studied in a published work. Char Leclerc by MP Robinson and Thierry Guillemain is a survey of the Leclerc’s development and service in the French Army right up to the present day. It explains the differences between the eleven Leclerc production batches produced for the French Army, the different Leclerc derived vehicles, and the changes that have transformed the French armored force since the Leclerc first entered service. This latest addition to the Kagero Photosniper series is illustrated with over 220 unpublished photographs and ten color plates, making it
an ideal reference for historians and modelers alike.

Christopher Foss on Leclerc MBT

Here is a video of Jane’s reporter Christopher Foss describing the Leclerc MBT on display at the IDEX conference.  This particular vehicle is the “tropicalized” version of the tank.

leclerc foss

French Leclerc to receive $350 million upgrade

leclerc_11Jane’s is reporting that France has awarded to Nexter Systems a contract to upgrade it’s fleet of 200 Leclerc MBTs.  The contract also includes 18 Leclerc based heavy recover vehicles and is expected to be completed in 2020.  The modernisation project is intended to carry the service life of the vehicles past 2040 and provide improved capabilities in asymmetric warfare environments.  Improvements will include the installation of new armor kits as well as new digitized information systems and a new tactical digital radio system.  More info here.