The Ford Everest and Ranger, both designed and engineered here in Australia, are part of a huge fleet of military vehicles currently being rolled out to the French army.
We stumbled across these pictures and did some more digging to find out what the fleet was all about, because who doesn’t like army vehicles.
The Everest is part of a fleet of 3700 custom-built army vehicles starting service in the French army, customised by Arquus Defence, a French military specialist owned by Volvo.
The French government announced the VT4 program in December 2016, aimed at replacing the army’s ageing fleet of P4 Liaison vehicles, which were in use since the ’80s and co-produced by Peugeot and Mercedes-Benz.
The contract with Arquus Defence resulted in two types of vehicles being developed: the Everest-based Trapper VT4 and the Ranger-based Trigger LTV.
The Arquus Trapper VT4 is based on the Ford Everest and uses a Euro III compliant 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine producing 118kW of power and 385Nm of torque.
Why such an old engine? It’s designed to work with the low-quality fuels expected in some deployment regions and is fitted with a double gasoil filtration system.
Despite a kerb weight of 3500kg, payload is increased to 1000kg thanks to the removal of interior components you’d find in a road-going Everest, such as the infotainment and creature comforts. There’s additional strengthening and swapped suspension components on board to support the big weight increase.
It’s also equipped with a larger 110 litre fuel tank to help with driving range. The regular Everest currently has an 80L tank good for a maximum of 1300km of range, but the VT4’s 3500kg kerb weight means driving range comes in at just under 1000km.
Top speed goes from 195km/h to 170km/h due to the additional weight, but what it lacks in speed it makes up for in off-road ability.
A true 250mm ground clearance combines with the ability to cross trenches 500mm wide, and the VT4 will climb gradients of 50 per cent and navigate side slopes up to 30 per cent. In terms of transport, it’s designed to be moved by C130, C160, and A400M military aircraft.
The body is similar to the Everest, but features a reinforced chassis and bumpers, a soundproof interior, a military bull bar, and a hull that meets NATO standards.
The Trapper VT4 is sold in two specifications, inventively dubbed Standard 1 and Standard 2. The Standard 1 is a blank canvas onto which options can be added, the 2 comes with packaging allowing the integration of communications systems, global positioning systems, additional racks, towing equipment, blackout lights, and other mission-specification requirements for overseas deployment.
If a ute is more your style, there’s always the Arquus Trigger light tactical vehicle (LTV), which is based on the Ford Ranger.
It uses the same 2.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine producing 118kW of power and 385Nm of torque, but offers up to 1000km of range thanks to its lighter weight and 115 litre fuel tank. It also has a higher top speed of 172km/h.
It’s available in two configurations; a single-cab utility and dual-cab utility. The single-cab can can carry two passengers inside and eight in the tray, while the dual-cab can carry four in the cab and six on the tray.
The single-cab offers a load tray measuring 2400mm long and 1900mm wide, while the dual-cab caters for 1650mm of load length and 1900mm of load width.
Both configurations can be fitted with a 12.7mm machine gun, mounted on the rear tray and sitting over the passenger compartment.
Just like the VT4, the LTV features a reinforced chassis offering a total payload of 1300kg and a load area of 4.6m2, with a gross vehicle mass of 3500kg and gross combined mass of 7000kg.
In terms of off-road specifications, the LTV can traverse a 60 per cent gradient, offers a true 230mm ground clearance, and can wade through 800mm of water.
It can also be transported by CN-235, C-130 or A-400 military aircraft.
What’s the story with the different colour schemes? The Trapper and Trigger are delivered in the base brown ‘terre de France’ paint job with a job-specific camouflage finish able to be added or removed on top.
The ‘Centre Europe’ camouflage, for example, is used in road- and jungle-based operations, while a sand or snow-coloured camouflage paint can be added for operations where vehicles need to blend into their scenery.