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Vehicle Focus ~ ARQUUS SHERPA Light Family

Armoured SHERPA Light Scout in Egyptian service photographed at EDEX 18 in Cairo in December - this vehicle has a Remote Weapon Station but no machine gun is fitted [©BM]

The ARQUUS SHERPA Light, formerly the Renault Trucks Defense SHERPA 2 or SHERPA 3, is a family of 4×4 tactical vehicles which share the same chassis, writes Bob Morrison.

 

First publicly unveiled at the EUROSATORY 2006 defence expo in Paris, the original Renault SHERPA 2 was marketed as a French alternative to the AM General HMMWV or Hum-vee, and indeed the first examples bore more than a passing resemblance to the American vehicle, but its ladder chassis and beam axle configuration gave it more ground clearance and a higher sit. In 2010 the vehicle family was renamed SHERPA Light and in May 2018, just before EUROSATORY 18, Renault Trucks Defense (owner of the Panhard, Auverland and ACMAT brand names) was rebranded as ARQUUS – a combination of the Latin words for armour and horse.

 

Four-door cab module between axles offers ballistic and mine protection to STANAG 4569 – rear cargo area is unarmoured [©BM]

Although not procured in massive quantities by the French Army, SHERPA Light is used in counter-terrorist roles by both French Special Forces and France’s GIGN (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale or National Gendarmerie Intervention Group) as well as by police and military units of at least eight other nations; in addition to those eight foreign countries known to have bought SHERPA 2 / Light, the company also mentions unspecified NATO countries in its latest media pack issued to specialist defence media in December 2018. Client confidentiality contractual obligations prevent ARQUUS talking too much about which specific versions of the SHERPA 2 have been sold to particular countries, but at EDEX 18 in Cairo their Egyptian customers allowed them to display on their exhibition stand two variants which had seen operational service and naturally we seized the opportunity to photograph these for our readers.

 

Six different variants, some armoured and some unarmoured, are currently offered:-

  • SHERPA Light Scout is available with a steel body or armoured cab and is suited to reconnaissance, patrol, surveillance, command and liaison missions.
  • This is a specialist conversion of the Station Wagon for the Egyptians with high roof extension at rear to seat two more personnel [©BM]

    SHERPA Light Station Wagon has a five-door armoured cab and can transport up to five soldiers and/or a weapon or mission system – it can be adapted to various tactical usage profiles, such as reconnaissance, protected patrols, surveillance, internal security and weapon or mission systems transport for short range ground-air defence.
  • SHERPA Light Special Forces has an open body, removable windscreen, five seats, and mounts for weapons and special equipment – it is said to be ideally suited to the specific requirements of Special Forces and to long distance off-road patrols.
  • Sherpa Light Carriers – photographed here in 2009 – have two-door cab and a large cargo loadbed with canopy [© ARQUUS]

    SHERPA Light Carrier is a two-man truck designed for logistics missions over difficult terrain and can have either a sheet metal or armoured cab – its cargo loadbed can accommodate up to 5 tonnes of payload, including a 10-foot shelter body; the French Army has ordered this variant to transport the Syracuse II satellite communication shelter.
  • SHERPA Light APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier) is a three-door armoured troop transport vehicle that can accommodate up to 10 equipped troops or gendarmes – alternatively, its large interior volume also enables it to accommodate a weapon system or to be used as a mobile command post.

 

Early version of the SHERPA Light Station Wagon with RWS from 2007 – no additional underside protection has been fitted yet and note side vision block shape [© ARQUUS]

Although the SHERPA Light, especially in its sloping back Scout version, bears a passing resemblance to the HMMWV or Hum-vee it is actually a much taller and heavier vehicle. The armoured Egyptian version with Remote Weapon Station at the top of this page has a declared GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) of 11,000kg, compared to under 4 tonnes for the base Hum-vee, and its payload is given as 3,300kg. The wheelbase of the Egyptian vehicle is relatively comparable, at 3,540mm versus 3,300mm for the US vehicle, and both are almost identical in width at 2,200mm and 2,160mm respectively but the Hum-vee has a much lower profile at just 1,370mm compare to 2,100mm for the SHERPA. In armoured configuration the SHERPA Light is quoted as offering both ballistic and mine protection to STANAG 4569.

 

In addition to the five core models listed above various other prototypes, including a battlefield ambulance and a compact three-man airportable SpecOps version, have been developed and it would appear from company promotional videos that further concept vehicles on the SHERPA Light chassis are in the pipeline.

{ images © Bob Morrison unless noted }

The original SHERPA 2 demonstator on its debut at EUROSATORY in 2006 – this is when it, understandably, picked up its French Hum-vee nickname [©BM]

From this angle the original vehicle’s very basic design is obvious – beam axle with differential can just be seen through the dust [©BM]

Company photo of a SHERPA Light APC dating from 2010 – note Remote Weapon Station and rooftop air-conditioning unit [© ARQUUS]

Company photo of a SHERPA Light APC dating from 2010 – an appliqué armour kit can further increase protection levels [© ARQUUS]

Armoured SHERPA Light Scout with machine gun turret at DVD 2010 [©BM]

The protruding windscreen and side vision blocks identify this SHERPA Light Scout as being armoured – ring mount can take up to 12.7mm heavy machine gun [©BM]

Rear cargo tray is unarmoured with simple canopy for weather protection [©BM]

SHERPA Light FS (Special Forces model) on the Millbrook off-road course at DVD 2010 – the cab seats two with provision for gunner and one more in the rear [©BM]

SHERPA Light Scout at EUROSATORY 18 – standard glazing marks this out as a conventional steel-bodied vehicle [©BM]

Visual similarities with the US Hum-vee are clear from this angle but note no machine gun ring [©BM]

GIGN SHERPA Light APC with assault platform for building take-downs photographed during a dynamic display at EUROSATORY 18 [©BM]

Note side running boards and high level handrails – front section of main platform can be hydraulically raised [©BM]

The assault platform ladders and handrails can be speedily de-rigged for road travel then quickly reconfigured in various combinations [©BM]

2014 company photo showing full assault platform and ladder configuration on SHERPA Light APC [© ARQUUS]

This SHERPA Light battlefield ambulance was developed for a specific customer requirement [© ARQUUS]

Company photo of the SHERPA LIGHT FS (Special Forces) variant thought to date from around 2010 [© ARQUUS]

 

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