The General Directorate of Armament (DGA), known for its strategic position in the defense sector, has remained mysteriously silent despite the anticipation around major contracts to be announced under the 2023 Finance Law. This unusual silence has sparked concerns about certain ongoing programs, particularly regarding the twelve Marine Fusiliers Vedettes (VFM) that were ordered from Ufast shipyard in 2018.
A Delayed Schedule
Originally, the plan called for two VFMs to be handed over to the French Navy in 2019, with the rest to be delivered over the next two years. Yet, the program experienced significant delays and the first VFM was only launched in September 2021 after undergoing modifications as requested by the DGA. These changes were most notable in the protection of the fuel supply circuit for the engines.
The first unit, named “Bir Hakeim”, was declared fit for service and was subsequently delivered to the “Amyot d'Inville” marine fusiliers battalion based in Brest in January 2023. The second unit, “Lafaux”, was passed on to the French Navy in March of the same year with utmost discretion. It is projected that the delivery will continue through to 2025, however, no recent updates have been provided about the program.
Current Status of the Contract
In December, a meeting was held between Ufast and the DGA to discuss the fate of the remaining ten VFMs. Yet, no information has been made public since. This has led to speculations that the contract for the VFMs is currently on hold, awaiting renegotiation.
Capabilities of a VFM
A VFM, a powerful piece of marine machinery, weighs 15 tons and measures 15 meters in length. It is capable of reaching a top speed of 40 knots, thanks to its four 350 hp engines. Each VFM can accommodate a pilot, navigator, and six marine fusiliers, and is equipped with 7.62 and 12.7mm machine guns. Its primary mission is to escort the “precious” units of the French Navy and safeguard maritime approaches and military ports.