On September 10, 2020, the French forces stationed in Djibouti (FFDJ) received two VBMR Griffon multi-role armored vehicles for an operational technical assessment in hot weather. The Frenh army is training in view of deploying Griffons in the Sahel region, in the framework of Operation Barkhane.
For its first deployment to Africa, the Nexter Griffon spent ten days treading Djibouti’s semi-desert terrain. It has been studied in all its aspects to assess its resistance to hot climates and rough terrain: chassis, weapon system, Hornet RWS, GPS link, etc. Pictures published on Twitter show that one of these two Griffons was fitted with a wire cage protection covering all four sides of the vehicles, a protection that will maybe fitted on some - if not all - the Grifons that will be deployed in Mali.
The tests began during an SGTIA-level (Sous-Groupement Tactique InterArmes) exercise organized by the 5th Overseas Interarms Regiment (5 RIAOM, Régiment InterArmes d’Outre-Mer), a future user, in which the Griffon was embedded for these trials. The 5 RIAOM is a marine regiment stationed in Djibouti since 1 November 1969. It is the last combined arms regiment in the French army comprising a mechanised infantry company, a light cavalry squadron, an artillery battery and a command and support company.
VBMR Griffon after delivery in Djibouti at the 5 RIAOM's barracks. No machine gun is fitted yet on the Hornet RWS (Picture source: French army)
After the troop embarkation and disembarkation phases were completed, the Griffon equipped with a 12.7mm machine gun fired at the same time as its AMX 10 RC wheeled light tank. In addition, various driving sequences took place, marked by their first Galix (smoke grenades, from Lacroix) firing or tests of small equipment such as straps, cable cutter and winche.
An ideal place for training and arming equipment and men in an arid climate, Djibouti is an operational forward base allowing working conditions similar to the theaters of operations in which the Griffons will be deployed in the near future. The first deployment of Griffons to Mali is scheduled for 2022.