The French Army buys its first overseas combat vehicles

In 1961, the Chief of General Staff of the French Overseas Military Forces launched the study of a tactical vehicle that could be used in desert, Saharan and equatorial theatres of operation.

Designed for units in the Sahara, it needed to have a range of 1,000 km without requiring water or fuel and be able to carry either a heavy weapon or an infantry combat unit.

The Legueu de Meaux (ALM) workshops improved their first truck model and fitted it with a body designed by the famous coachbuilder Pourtout. The vehicle was presented to the Minister of the Armed Forces on 27 April 1962. He agreed to purchase 5 of the vehicles which were dubbed VCOMs (overseas combat vehicle).

Two were tested in Mauritania and two in Chad during the Fennec 1 and 2 missions. The last was delivered to the tank unit of the French Army Engineering Branch which tested its ruggedness on 15,589 km of dirt tracks. Series production began a year later and 193 vehicles were delivered to the foreign legion in Djibouti. In 1965, the VLRA liaison, reconnaissance and support vehicle replaced the VCOM.

For further information...

Charge utile magazine, Hors série n°67 JG Jeudy, JM Boniface, 50 Ans de véhicules militaires en France de 1945 à nos jours, ETAI, 1945