The French company Arquus is considered one of the leading companies in the field of advanced defense vehicles. It has established a distinguished position for itself in equipping various armies of the world with military vehicles operating according to the highest international standards.
In order to shed light on this French company and its fields of work and products, Al Jundi Journal met with Mr. Emmanuel Levacher, President and CEO of Arquus, and had the following dialogue with him:
Can you talk to us about Arquus and its fields of work in general, and about the most prominent products that the company offers to its customers, and what is the extent of satisfaction and demand for them?
The Arquus brand is young, but it is firmly standing on some of the oldest names in the French Defense industry: Renault Trucks Defense, Acmat, Panhard, SOMUA, Berliet…
Arquus is a pioneer in the field of Defense vehicles, having supplied the very first motor vehicle to the French Army all the way back to 1904, a Panhard 24 HP, a vehicle which was then turned into the first actual motor combat vehicle, after the integration of a machine gun. Through the Panhard epic, and their long history of breakthrough, cutting-edge vehicles, many of which have made or still make history, such as the AMD, the AML, the EBR or the VBL, Arquus is arguably the oldest and most experienced company in the field of light armored vehicles for reconnaissance and combat.
We make a point of reflecting on our great ancestors, who inspire us with their pioneer mentality and their ability to work as closely as possible with the military and their industrial partners to define the equipment the Army needed, often before that need was even perceived by the commanding officers. That is what Arquus is all about: vision and synergy, at the service of the armies.
For the present, Arquus is a major partner of the French Army, with 25,000 vehicles currently in service, from the VAB APC to the TRM10000 heavy duty truck and from the VBL reconnaissance vehicle to the VBCI IFV, developed in partnership with Nexter. Arquus is heavily involved in the modernization of the combat capabilities of the French Army, being part of a consortium with Nexter and Thales to design and manufacture the new Griffon and Jaguar combat vehicles which will equip the French Army, but also the Belgian Land Component. On top of the design and manufacture of the mobility of these vehicles, Arquus is in charge of the RCWS which equip all the new vehicles of the French Army, which are known as the Hornet RCWS.
On top of that, Arquus is a partner to more than 60 countries around the world, with best-sellers such as the Bastion, the Sherpa Light, the VLRA or the VAB Mk3, to name just a few. Our ranges of light vehicles, tactical vehicles, special forces vehicles, logistics trucks, from 4×4 to 8×8, can answer the demands of any customer. They are designed and manufactured in France, with the highest standards available, benefitting from more than a century of expertise and work at the service of the armies. And we also build on partnerships worldwide!
All our vehicles are combat proven on several occasions, and fully meet the expectations of our customers. Several already serve in various armies in the Gulf region, such as the Sherpa Light or the VAB which are specifically thought for such environments.
Moreover, we have been supporting armies on all continents throughout their deployments and operations for decades, on the most demanding environments, starting with the French Army, for which we support more than 20,000 vehicles of all kinds. For that purpose, we benefit from teams of highly qualified technical experts, as well as a dedicated platform and a global network for worldwide logistics.
We also heavily invest in innovation to keep on top, with notable axis such as new energies, hybrid drive being the most promising one on the short term, automation and protection. That also includes several other innovations aimed at easing the mission for both the operatives on the battlefield and the maintenance teams which support them.
How important is the UAE and GCC market to Arquus ?
The UAE and France have been partners for many years in many fields, including Defense cooperation. That partnership is illustrated by the presence of the 5th Regiment of Cuirassiers in Abu Dhabi, which fields several combat and support vehicles from Arquus. The UAE are an essential player in the Gulf Cooperation Council and in the Gulf region as a whole, and their Armed Forces are a reference in the region. The UAE are also the hosts of our most important trade show outside of Eurosatory, IDEX, which is the central in our commercial endeavors.
Moreover, the UAE Defense Industry is renowned for its very high level of quality and the excellence of its production, and Arquus would be very interested to create new industrial cooperations or even localize some activities depending on the needs or the programs.
What are your most prominent projects for the next stage?
Our current efforts for France are aimed at the new generation of tactical and logistics trucks, for which we have developed the Armis family, but also at what is known as the VBAE program, which aims at replacing the reconnaissance and scouting capabilities of the French Army. We have thus developed the Scarabee which, as you recall, was launched officially at IDEX 2021.
On top of these two projects, we are working to create new synergies and increase our presence on all continents, building on our range, but also on our mobility solutions and services which allow for large-scale cooperation to meet all needs.
What are your company future plans ? and How do you see the company changing in two years?
We have launched Arquus in 2018, four years ago, and the company has already changed massively during the past few years. We have inaugurated a new industrial strategy with new production methods and a specialty for each of our industrial plants. From now on, all our new vehicles are produced in Limoges, all repairs are done in Saint-Nazaire, and so on. That strategy has further increased the quality and responsiveness of our production, for the benefit of our customers and partners.
We plan to keep innovating as we go, to keep perfecting our vehicles and stay at the top of the existing capabilities in Defense: autonomous convoys, new generation protection, systems integration, remote-control driving, HUMS… And we intend to provide with this innovation for our most demanding customers, among which the UAE.
What are your recent biggest accomplishments in the defense sector?
Our most recent accomplishment was the delivery of 119 new Griffon 6×6 combat vehicles for the French Army in 2021, alongside our partners Nexter and Thales. The vehicle was also deployed for the first time ever in operation overseas, which meant getting all its functions and support systems ready on time. Overcoming the COVID situation was a challenge which we achieved thanks to the complete involvement of our teams at the service of the armies.
Tell us about your experience and participation in IDEX 2021, and did it meet your expectations?
IDEX is always a major event for us. This year was an even more important milestone for us, as it was the first trade show for almost a year, and we had a lot to show to our partners in the UAE and the Middle East. This is why we took the opportunity to unveil and launch commercially our very latest products: the Scarabee and the Hornet Business Unit, dedicated to the marketing of the Hornet range of RCWS. Both products have received an excellent welcome from all at IDEX and we have been very pleased with the exhibition. We have already started working on the next edition.
What new products is ARQUUS offering the UAE and Gulf region?
As I said, Arquus does have a complete range of products and services to meet essentially all the needs of any army in the Gulf region.
We have already received many signs of interest from various countries for the Scarabee. It is the very first hybrid-drive military vehicle, but also a very mature reconnaissance and combat vehicle which would be available very quickly for new customers. As Arquus’ most advanced vehicle, it is equipped with all our expertise in terms of mobility, with its thermal engine and its electrical engine totaling 400hp for about 8 tons and its rear steering axle, electrical power thanks to its production and storage capabilities, protection, systems integration. Innovation is not an objective per se, but we believe that the new generation of combat vehicles will need immensely higher capabilities to allow for the stealth, autonomy and mobility needed on the battlefield, as well as all the power-consuming systems required for modern combat.
Since the Scarabee integrates several different technological bricks, its industrialization and production could very well be open to partnerships. It could even be produced locally with a high level of involvement from companies from the Gulf, thus creating new industrial and technological cooperation.
The Hornet range is also an excellent contender for future RCWS procurements in the region. A top-tier solution, already qualified and used by the French Army, it includes a wide array of cameras and sensors, a self-defense weapon, but also self-protection solutions thanks to its independent smoke grenade launcher ring.
Would you like to send any message through Al Jundi Journal to the defense community in general, or in the UAE in particular?
Thank you very much for hosting us today and see you at Eurosatory 2022 in Paris!
Emmanuel LEVACHER, President and CEO of ARQUUS
59 years, graduated from Ecole de Management of Lyon, from Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Paris and from INSEAD (CEDEP).
Has held multiple operational and strategic functions in contact with markets on the five continents, during his rich career, 30 years in the automobile industry (Renault Trucks, Renault, Volvo)
Has also built a solid experience with French and foreign governments, state authorities and public and diplomatic institutions.
By: Jasem Shahin Al Blooshi