"These vehicles are part of a first batch of 25 units intended to meet the most urgent requirements," the Direction Générale de l'Armement, the France's procurement office, said in a Feb. 9 statement.
"They are intended to improve the interoperability and performance of the vehicle park used by the Army, Air Force and Navy special forces," the DGA said. The vehicles were adapted and built by RTD, and tested and certified by the DGA in 13 months.
The machine, whose full name is Poids Lourds Force Spéciale (Heavy Special Forces Vehicle) is based on lighter Renault Sherpa truck, which looks a lot like US HMV on the outside. It is supposed to replace a patchwork fleet of other vehicles used by French Special Forces around the world and solve the problem of spare parts unification.
"The Special Forces vehicle program meets the most demanding operational requirements for intelligence, neutralization and deep penetration operations in hostile areas with the utmost stealthiness," reads Defense World report.
According to the manufacturer, some several hundreds of modifications were implemented on Sherpa vehicle to allow for creation of PLFS. Remarkably, while much bulkier and not exactly stealthy on the exterior, the PLFS is claimed to weigh less than its predecessor.
This first batch were delivered by Renault Trucks Defense to meet the most urgent of French Special Forces need in Sahel Region in Africa. The delivery of the remaining 172 vehicles is not expected to start until January 2019. To meet the urgent deadline, Renault opted for incremental development of the vehicle, shipping 25 Standard 1 modification vehicles, with proper Standard 2 version to be shipped in several years.
The current Standard 1 modification of PLFS will be fitted with two radios, one 12.7x99 mm (.50 cal) machine gun (MG) and two 7.62x51 mm MGs. A tougher Standard 2 modification will be able to carry increased payload, be armed with heavier weaponry or be equipped with up to seven radios.