France's Jaguar Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle: One Dangerous Armored Car

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France's Jaguar Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle: One Dangerous Armored Car

Ever a fan of armored car derivatives, France is ordering more—but they’re not your grandpa’s armored car.

Even though armored cars are not as widely used as in previous conflicts, France is still a big fan. They’re smaller and more compact than tanks—simplifying logistics—but can nonetheless pack a big punch. And in places where French forces are involved, namely in the Sahel region, armored cars are perfect. It therefore makes sense that France is acquiring a new armored car-derivative. Meet the Jaguar.

Though admittedly an ungainly-looking vehicle, the Jaguar is quite literally armed to the teeth. The platform’s main gun is manufactured by CTA International, a joint venture company between BAE Systems and Nexter Systems.

Known as the 40 CTAS (Cased Telescoped Armament System), the advanced 40 millimeter gun is very compact and fires a variety of ammunition, including an armor piercing fin-stabilized sabot shell, and armor-piercing explosive shells. The gun is also able to fire at high angles of elevation and can therefore also fire an anti-air and anti-drone air burst shell.

The 6-wheeled vehicle also comes equipped with remotely-operated 7.62mm general purpose machine-gun as secondary armament. But, that’s not all—the Jaguar also has a nasty surprise hidden in the side of its hull.

Two of the relatively new Missile Moyenne Portée, a medium-range anti-tank missile, are also housed in a pop-out launcher on one side of the Jaguar’s turret. One reload is stored internally, giving the Jaguar a four missile capacity. The missile is a tandem warhead design and thought to be effective against a wide variety of armor. In addition, the missile sprays tungsten splinters after detonation, giving it a powerful anti-personnel capability to boot.

As if that weren’t enough, the Jaguar is also well-protected. Armor protection is said to be sufficient for protection from Soviet/Russian 14.5x114mm armor piercing rounds, 155mm artillery shell splinters, as well as a variety of anti-tank mines and improvised explosive devices.

Although the Jaguar’s engine design is based on commercial truck designs, it has been modified to accept a wider range of fuels, a nod to the austere locations France expects to deploy the Jaguar, where fuel quality and type could be expected to vary considerably. 

The French Ministry of Armed Forces expects to order approximately 300 of the Jaguar armored reconnaissance vehicles by 2025, which are manufactured domestically in France by three of the French defense industry heavyweights, Nexter, Arquus and Thales.

Postscript

The French tradition of armored cars just keeps rolling onwards—and the Jaguar is the best-protected, most advanced armored car-derivative in service with France. Enemies of France beware.

Caleb Larson is a defense writer with the National Interest. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.

Image: Nexter