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Renault Vehicules Industriels' role in defense.

Renault Vehicules Industriels' Role in Defence

Renault Vehicules Industriels (RVI) is now a supplier to over 30 armed forces throughout the world and is the French Army's main source of ground vehicles.

In order to satisfy its customers' requirements the company set up a specialised division, the Division Defense Equipment (DDE) whose tasks are to design, carry out R & D into and market a comprehensive range of products. The DDE has its own R & D body, the SEDEMS (Societe d'Etudes et de Developpement de Materiels Speciaux) that is responsible for the design of specifically military equipment, and in addition has a specialist research body for engine design. To the above should be added the SMS (Societe de Materiels Speciaux), an RVI/Creusot-Loire Industrie subsidiary, owned in equal shares, charged with the export sales of armoured vehicles.

RVI's range of equipment can be subdivided into the following categories: * Wheeled armoured vehicles * Tactical and logistic trucks * High performance military vehicle engines * Generators * Civil defence vehicles (e.g. fire-engines) and special-purpose vehicles for the civil authorities.

The two principal RVI plants engaged in defence production are: Blainville, where tactical vehicles (the TRM 2000 and 10000) as well as the VTL logistic truck are assembled; and Limoges, where tank power-plants are built and modernized and which produces the main mechanical components for the VAB and VBC, except for the engines, which are produced in its Venissieux plant.

Wheeled Armoured Vehicles

RVI builds two families of wheeled armoured vehicles, the VAB (Vehicule de I'Avant Blinde) and the VBC (Vehicule Blinde de Combat, the armed version of the VAB). Virtually all the mechanical components are common to both vehicles.

Some 230 VABs came off the assembly line in 1988. The target for the French Army has been raised to 4 434 units, which guarantees series production until the end of 1992.

The SEDEMS is working on a development of the VAB with the aim of improving its mobility, increasing its level of armour protection and upgunning it while keeping within the existing 13 tonnes weight category.

So far this year 28 VABs have been ordered by the Sultanate of Brunei. A new version equipped with the Matra Mistral/Albi low-level air defence system is under development.

Tactical and Logistic Vehicles

In 1988 the DDE delivered a total of 2 540 TRM (Toutes Roues Motrices) all-wheel drive trucks. The French Army is due to receive its 4 500th TRM 2000 in the course of 1989, the target being 12 000 vehicles.

Under delivery are 90 TRM 2000s ordered by Morocco featuring a soft top (tarpaulin) driver's cab and straight axles. RVI is currently developing the TRM 150-11, the successor to now discontinued TRM 4000, a 4 x 4 6-tonner derived from a commercial range model. Fitted with the TRM 2000's driver's cab, it is powered by a supercharged 159 HP engine with a 5-speed gear-box. It will come halfway between the TRM 2000 (2 tonnes) and the TRM 10000 (10 tonnes) of which the initial French Army order of 790 units is in the course of delivery, the ultimate target being 1500 units.

Various versions of the TRM 10000 are in service, as cargo trucks, combat engineer carriers, heavy equipment transporter semi-trailers and tractors for the hydraulic folding bridge. The first artillery tractors are coming off the assembly line: of a total stated requirement of 175 units 60 have been confirmed. A version jointly produced with Germany is being built called TRM 10000 MATS (Materiel d'Aide a la Traficabilite des Sols, or road construction vehicle): RVI is supplying the chassis and Germany the bodywork.

Sixty-nine TRM 10000s have already been ordered by Saudi Arabia in support of the Shahine air defence system.

RVI rounds off its range of tactical vehicles with a 100-tonne category tank-transporter designed for the AMX Leclerc MBT. It is powered by a Mack E9 V8 engine of which Renault has developed a 700 HP version. It is fitted with a 7-speed (forward) gear-box. RVI is in competition with Faun for this programme, the French Army's requirement being for 350 units.

There has been a surge in orders for militarized commercial trucks, 1 288 having been supplied in 1988, among which the VTL (Vehicule de Transport Logistique) on a G 290 6 x 4 chassis, the 500th of which is due to be delivered to the French Army by the end of the year. The programme covers a total of 3 500 vehicles.

Vehicle and Tank Engines

RVI is working closely with Mack, its American associate, on the production of the Mack E9, a commercial V8 16.4-litre engine featuring the Hypercharge system which has been designed for all tactical or armoured vehicles requiring 700 to 1 000 horsepower.

It was Renault that supplied the engines for all the French Army's armoured tracked vehicles, its HS 115 and HS 110 powering the AMX 13, AMX 30 and AMX 10. The modernisation of the HS 115 comprises among other important developments the adoption of direct fuel injection.

Apart from this family, RVI has militarized a portion of its commercial engines, all of which can be used to equip the complete range of vehicles - trucks, wheeled and tracked armoured vehicles, combat engineer vehicles, etc., the aim being to have engines available off the shelf covering the complete power range up to 1 000 HP, and all having passed the NATO 400-hour test.

In 1988 a total of 247 tank engines were produced by RVI.

Export is the Keyword

1988 was a particularly good year for the DDE, which achieved a turnover of the order of FF 3 billion out of a total turnover of FF 34 billion for the RVI group (Europe and Mack). Exports account for about 12% of the DDE's turnover, of which 4% goes on R & D. However, counting for more than turnover, it is RVI's important place in the defence industry which is the most significant aspect of its activities.

Thus, 33% of the overall activities of the Limoges plant are devoted to defence. At Blainville defence production amounts to almost 13% of the activities of a plant which by itself accounts for 25% of Renault's industrial output in France. The repercussions of the recent French government defence planning review will probably be felt by the above two plants and there is no doubt whatsoever that they will affect the DDE and hence RVI as a whole. It is conceivable that a slowing down will make itself felt as from the end of the year, and a drop in the turnover of some 25% is quite possible. As a result the company will now be directing its main effort towards the export market. This export drive may take place through joint ventures and tie-ups with other firms in which Renault may not necessarily be the main contractor. On this score the company is fully prepared to play its part and is open to any form of partnership.

The DDE's internationally oriented structure, a comprehensive range of products and a flexible production tool are all assets which will enable RVI to face a situation which is bound to become more difficult. Whatever the case, this major defence manufacturer fully intends to go on concentrating its efforts on ensuring the expansion and permanence of a sector which it considers a basic aspect of its activities and which forms an integral part of its strategy.

PHOTO : Most of the main mechanical components for the French VAB vehicles are produced by Renault

PHOTO : Vehicules Industriels' plant in Limoges. Engines are produced by the Venissieux factory.

PHOTO : TRM, in Renault's terminology means "Toutes Roues Motrices" as exemplified by this TRM

PHOTO : 700-100 tractor.

PHOTO : The E9 Hypercharge 16.4-litre V8 Diesel engine - this version produces a hefty 900

PHOTO : hp - was developed with Mack.
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Publication:Armada International
Date:Oct 1, 1989
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