The EBR-97 is France’s much needed replacement for the obsolete ABR-76 and VCIR which is coming into service with frontline French Army units. Like its predecessor it is a robust and versatile eight wheeled AFV capable of undertaking a range of tasks. The EBR-97 is a notably capable vehicle able to survive and thrive on a medium intensity battlefield. The EBR-97 has seen service against the Kafers in the hands of the Troupes de Marine and the Coloniale and many units are rebuilding with this vehicle. No doubt it will also prove a popular export item.
All images are by Laurent Esmiol. The 30mm MDAC and M-79 are by Bryn Monnery.
The four vehicle section rolled east through the streets of Adrian pushing out the perimeter into one of the shattered and deserted suburbs. The ‘malheureux’ of the 2e Division d’Infanterie de Marine had arrived from the Continent Français only two days before to take over from the motley garrison of New African conscripts and Adrianer résistants. The once graceful city of Adrian was still in a state of fear. The under strength, overstretched and under trained New African 71st Brigade had done its best but was unable to secure anything but key points in the city. Only now had the situation elsewhere on Beta Canum calmed down enough to allow the dispatch a full formation of regulars.
During the Occupation the British had launched a major raid on Adrian which had killed most of the garrison but the Kafer Remnants had reformed effectively thereafter in the face of increasing opposition from the resistance. It was only after the 3rd Liberation that the British eventually launched the Raven Brigade, the 71st Brigade and a group of Commandos from New Woking to try and liberate the city. They’d done their job, beating the Kafer main force but the Ravens had to re-deploy before the city was properly secured, leaving the New Africans and Adrianers to it.
The Néo-Provençal marsouins were crack veterans of Kimanjano and Beta Canum and experts at hunting down the aliens. They’d quickly come to rely on their new EBR-97s for protection and firepower, something they could never have said about their old VCIRs and ABR-76s. Seconds after the small convoy turned off the Rue Evans they came under a hail of gunfire.
The response was almost instantaneous as 7.5mm and 30mm fire rocked away from the EBR-97s scattering the exposed Kafers forcing the survivors into bomb damaged buildings. One of the vehicles fired a FAE blockbuster in after them, smashing them with a killing concussion. The vehicles pulled into formation as more Kafers began opening up. Now came the difficult bit as the rear ramps whirred open and marines stormed out to root out the alien fighters. As they did so other sections of EBR-97s from I/13e RIMa raced to the scene to cut off the Kafers’ escape routes.
The EBR-97 is a family of wheeled AFVs using a common chassis that has been in service with the French Army since 2297 and is slowly being rolled out across the various units who use these types of vehicle.
The roots of the EBR-97 lie in the obsolescence of the ABR-76 and the VCIR which were cruelly exposed in the War of German Reunification. The ABR-76 was initially intended as an export design but was purchased by the French in small numbers for service in Africa. It then found itself pressed into service in second line roles with French forces in the Central Asian War. Indeed it was quite successful and an APC version, known as VCIR, was developed to compliment it. These vehicles became the mainstay of French light armoured and infantry divisions partly as a result of massive overproduction in the last years of the war.
However the two vehicles were limited by very light armour, inadequate obstacle crossing capability and limited firepower. This was made plain by the fate of the 64e Division d’Infanterie during the war with Germany when that formation was smashed by assaulting German Luftkissenpanzers whilst trying to defend the Ardennes. The light AFVs proved vulnerable even to the new generation of 30mm rifle grenades and became death traps. Once again however massive orders were placed to replace combat losses, meaning the ABR would soldier on for at least another decade.
A replacement for the ABR was already in the prototype stage prior to 2293 with Schneider. This new AFV was envisioned as being much more heavily armoured, utilise the latest monocoque hull design, be fully off road capable and have a modular approach to armaments allowing a series of AFVs with differing weapons fits. Ease of maintainence was also to be an important characteristic. The baseline vehicle was to be capable of carrying the standard French ten man infantry squad.
This initial design changed very little as Schneider continued to develop the new vehicle. Elements of the French general staff were unconvinced about the new design, believing the ABR was adequate for the job in hand, and that there were more pressing items to spend the defence budget on. President Ruffin intervened several times in the procurement process making sure that the EBR-97 actually saw the light of day, however some in the army never fully embraced the design which is part of the reason for its slow roll-out.
The common EBR-97 chassis is based on designs developed for colonial exploration vehicles several decades ago. These vehicles have eight wheels each with independent power and suspension combined excellent off-road performance, respectable obstacle crossing and fully amphibious capabilities. Combined with its extra power the EBR-97 outperforms the ABR-76 in all regards. However the vehicle retains the robustness and simplicity of maintenance of its predecessor.
One of the greatest weaknesses of the ABR-76 was its thin armour which made it vulnerable to even standard infantry weapons, negating its ability to operate in a robust manner in the contact battle. The EBR-97 has a greatly enhanced armour package utilising a mixture of modern composite armour and appliqué kits. Although still vulnerable to dedicated anti-armour weapons it is a much more survivable vehicle than either the VCIR or AVCI-3.
One aspect of the VCIR the design team wanted to keep was the ability to carry a full 10 man infantry squad, rather than the truncated 8 man version carried by the in-service AVCI-3. Consequently the EBR-97 was designed being able to carry a ten man squad in addition to the two man crew. This large capacity enables the baseline vehicle to be very versatile and capable of being converted to many roles.
The EBR-97 includes the same vectronics suite and combat system as included in the AVCI-4 ‘Vandamme’. Tied in with an impressive sensor and communications package this gives the vehicle much better situational awareness and connectivity into the divisional battlenet. The EBR-97 also mounts a three shot decoy/interceptor launcher on the rear deck which combines with passive ECM and the active PD system to protect the vehicle from incoming missiles.
The standard weapon package for the EBR de Combat d’Infanterie -97, the baseline APC variant, includes a point defence version of the 7.5mm M79 machine gun which can also engage ground targets. This is combined with the modern Darlan 30mm MDAC for the engagement of other AFVs, ground and air targets with direct fire. Other versions of the EBR-97 carry different weapons fits and these are described below.
So far several hundred EBR-97s of different variants have been produced and dispatched to units. Initially Divisions d’Infanterie deploying to Central Asia took priority and a decision was made that forces in contact with the Kafers in Eta Bootis would continue to use the ABR/VCIR as spares for these were plentiful in the colonies. However after the ‘Invasion’ the 2e DIMa deploying to the French Arm was equipped with the EBR-97, several rebuilding Coloniale units will be re-equipped with the vehicle. This change in priorities will result in some Earth and Tirane units soldiering on with the older vehicle for some years to come.
It is expected that the EBR-97 will become a long running export success, although it is in fierce competition with other vehicles, such as surplus ABR-76s and the aggressively marketed Redkat, for sales. Already many French allies have expressed an interest in procuring this vehicle.
The EBRA-97 is the support variant of the EBR-97. The main difference is the removal of to 30mm MDAC and its replacement with an eight round Guiscard modular missile launcher. This is capable of launching the normal range of Guiscard short range missiles including the Blindicide series and the Martel, as well as specialist rounds such as Fuel Air Explosives ‘blockbusters’. My carrying only four missiles it can also load the longer ranged and more capable Manta. The EBRA-97 can also carry a full squad of infantry, or extra missiles in the rear compartment.
EBR de Reconnaissance-97
EBRR-97 is the scout variant of the baseline EBR-97, it carries the standard 30mm MDAC but has enhanced sensors (20km (+2)) and carriage for lightweight UAVs in the rear compartment which has a reduced capacity for only 4 dismounted troopers. This variant serves in both reconnaissance and artillery observation roles.
EBR de Combat-97
The EBRC-97 is designed as a direct fire tank destroyer to supplement the EBRA-97 and has had the most troubled gestation of any of the EBR-97 models. The EBRC-97 carries a converted Darlan 65mm MDC from the AC-12 in a remote mounting, together with a pair of Martel missiles, in place of the 30mm. The vehicle also has 4 Manta missiles in a vertical launch system in the rear. The EBRC-97 has no troop carrying capacity and there has been some trouble integrating the MDC and the EBRC-97 is only just reaching frontline units. Schneider are producing an export version substituting the commonly used CLP-1A.
EBR de Poste de Commandement-97
EBRPC-97 is a HQ and command vehicle found at company HQ level and above. It retains the 30mm MDAC but has an extensive command, communications and control system installed which reduces the carrying capacity to 4 passengers.
EBR d’Ambulance - 97
This is the ambulance version of the EBR-97 and does not mount the 30mm MDAC. It carries four lightweight Automeds and two medical orderlies.
EBR d’Echelon de Dépannage-97
This is the repair and recovery version and has a rear mounted crane and spare parts storage. Four mechanics can be carried.
EBR d’Echelon Logistique-97
The EBRL-97 is the workhorse of the series, and is designed to support all the other versions in combat. The EBREL-97 has a redesigned rear troop compartment with loading rails to allow logistic packages to be quickly loaded and unloaded. It is also capable of being equipped with fuel tankage.
EBR de Mortier-97
The EBRM-97 is an indirect fire support version of the EBR-97. It carries a turret mounted standard French 105mm automatic mortar, by using a turret mounted weapon the EBRM-97 is dramatically more versatile than the ABR-76M it replaces being able to engage targets with indirect fire as well. Schneider are producing a range of prototypes with different auto-mortars in a range of calibres installed.
M-79 General Purpose Machine Gun
EBRR-97, 1e Escadron, 2e Régiment de Chasseurs de Kimanjano, 209e Division d’Infanterie
Côte d’Enfer, Fromme, Kimanjano, 19th January 2303
The 2e RCK are a unit of the Milice Coloniale who were formed in the aftermath of the Liberation of Kimanjano from members of the Francs-Tireurs de Kimanjano and a training cadre from the Coloniale. 2e RCK is to provide the reconnaissance element of the rebuilt 209e DI. The regiment was fortunate enough to receive a complete equipment set of EBR-97s in the autumn of 2302 and has been working hard to get up to speed with this equipment. Shown here on a patrol in the coastal regions of the colony in a typical locally applied camoflague pattern.
EBRA-97, II Bataillon, 13e Régiment d’Infanterie de Marines, 2e Division d’Infanterie de Marine
Adrian, Southern Continent, BCV-4, 2nd November 2302
This EBRA-97 belongs to the malheureux of the 2e DIMa’s II/13e RIMa. A rapid reaction unit tasked mainly with medium intensity warfare, which nevertheless has seen heavy combat in the Libération of the French Arm. This EBRA-97 is assigned to II/13e RIMa’s medical platoon and has seen heavy use in the months preceding this photo.
The image was taken during operations in Adrian. At this time most of the Kafers had been purged from the city and the 2e DIMa was primarily engaged in patrolling to secure the city and relief operations. 2e DIMa was notable for retaining their original Néo-Provençal camouflage patterns throughout the campaign. They even carried red crosses on their ambulances, almost unheard of units operating in the Cluster during the Invasion but fairly common in Armée de Libération units. The EBRA-97 is characterised by the lack of an MDAC and the mounting of a filtration and air conditioning unit on the roof.
EBRCI-97, I Bataillon, 2e Zouaves d'Algérie, 101e Division d’Infanterie
Algeria, Earth, 11th December 2302
This EBRCI-97 belongs to the Algerian 2e Zouaves. The unit is shown here on exercise in the coastal regions of North Africa in the process of conducting build-up training prior to deployment to the Central Asian Republic on ‘peacekeeping’ duties. Algerian units of the 4e Corps have been repeatedly called upon to bolster other French formations and rightly regard themselves as a hard fighting elite within the French Army. The EBRCI-97 is shown in typical 4e Corps camouflage pattern which is also used by French AFVs of the Armée de l’Asie Centrale.
EBRC-97, 1e Bataillon, Régiment de Chasseurs Ardennais, 64e Division d’Infanterie
Champagne, France, Earth, 26th February 2303
This EBRC-97 is newly issue with the famous 1e Chasseurs Ardennais, a Voluntary Nation Service unit assigned to the 64e DI. The 64e DI is a Belgian formation and was badly mauled trying to defend the Ardennes from the German assault in 2293 and so has been one of the first Armée Territoriale de l'Hexegone units to receive the EBR-97. This EBRC-97 is shown on exercise at the Mourmelon training camp in Champagne in early 2303 and is painted in a dark green pattern used in northern France. Notable is the white chalk dust thrown up on the skirts, a signature mark of most training in Champagne.
EBRA-97, Otaku Models - 2299 Catalogue
Modelling of AFVs, both digitally on computers as well as in plastics and other mediums, is a popular, if niche, pastime in 2300. Japan based Otaku Models has established itself as a market leader in such models since the time of the Central Asian War. Shown here is one of their earliest models of an EBRA-97 shown in basic green factory finish and mounted on a wooden base.
The ABR-76’s place in canon is somewhat confused. Its title suggests an in service (or at least procurement) date of 2276 yet the Ground Vehicle Guide describes it as an export design pressed into service during the War of German Reunification. By the Aurore Sourcebook the vehicle is still in service in colonial and some Metropolitan units in 2300. I have chosen to introduce the vehicle in 2276 and have it see service in the wars with Manchurian, Germany and the Kafers, by which date it is a very tired design indeed and past due for replacement.
The Aurore S/B also describes regular French ABR-76 units containing ABRs and unarmoured range trucks. I found this to be somewhat counter intuitive for such a major power and at odds with most current practice (i.e. real life UK armoured recce using different models of CVR(T)s – Scimitars, Spartans, Strikers etc) and so introduced a light wheeled APC, the VCIR, to compliment the ABR-76. Canon purists should feel free to ignore these changes.
8 September 2004
Copyright 2004, Laurent Esmiol and D Hebditch