President Ali Bongo orders military vehicles, mobile medical shelters and positioning systems from France 0

Gabon has ordered unmanned ground vehicles, mobile medical shelters, positioning systems and unmanned aerial vehicles from France’s Nexter. The contracts were announced by Nexter at the Eurosatory show in Paris on Tuesday. The deals involve the Findsat positioning system, Nerva LG unmanned ground vehicles, with a variety of mission kits, NX-110 unmanned aerial vehicles from Nexter partner Novadem and medical shelters from Euro-Shelter, a Nexter subsidiary. The Findsat system is a space-based blue force tracker that is able to identify and locate friendly personnel. The system has been tested by France as part of its Licorne operation in the Ivory Coast.

The Nexter Robotics Nerva LG wheeled unmanned ground vehicles are designed for reconnaissance and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) route clearance. The vehicle is designed to be an extension of the vehicle that carries it. The throwable and waterproof vehicle can be controlled from a computer, tablet or smartphone and can be operated semi-autonomously by following waypoints and automatically brought back home. Payloads can include an infrared camera, day camera etc.

Novadem’s NX-110 is a small quadcopter unmanned aerial vehicle powered by electric motors. Its rotor blades and rotor hub arms fold up so it can be transported in a single carry case. It carries a single gyrostabilised camera, which can be a CCD day camera or infrared camera. The interchangeable payload bay can also carry gas, radiometer or spectrometers and other sensors.

Gabon has previously ordered other military hardware from Nexter, and in November 2014 ordered four 15A naval mounts and a 20 mm Narwhal remote controlled gun turret from Nexter Systems to equip its Raidco RPB20 patrol boats and 58 metre OPV50 offshore patrol vessel bought from Piriou. In October 2014 Gabon also ordered the refurbished ex-French Navy P400 patrol vessel Tapageuse.

The Narwhal turret features an electro-optical sighting system and moving target auto-tracker. The turret for Gabon features the 20 x 102 mm M621 cannon, which has a firing rate of 750 rounds per minute. Weight of the turret with 200 rounds of ammunition is 390 kg. The Narwhal turret has been selected by the French Navy for its FREMM frigates.

The 15A light naval gun mount is also fitted with the M621 cannon. It is manually aimed and operated and weights 200 kg, with 160 rounds of ammunition. On 29 October 2014 Gabon also ordered 12 Aravis armoured vehicles to equip its battalion committed in the Central African Republic as part of the UN’s MINUSCA mission there. These vehicles were fitted with the ARX20 turret, the PG-Guard anti-RPG protection system and Nerva LG mini scout robots. The first were handed over to Gabon in June 2015.