On 29 December 2022, the French Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) procurement agency (DGA) awarded Nexter a contract for 50 Leclerc main battle tanks (MBTs) to be upgraded to the Leclerc XLR standard. An initial prototype Leclerc XLR was delivered to the DGA at the end of 2022, and the first batch of 18 Leclerc XLRs are to be delivered in 2023. In total, 200 Leclercs are due and 18 Leclerc DCL armoured recovery vehicles (ARVs) to be upgraded to the XLR standard under the original June 2021 contract, with deliveries slated for completion in 2029.
In terms of protection, the Leclerc XLR features the addition of explosive reactive armour (ERA) to improve protection against anti-tank weapons, as well as improved mine protection. These are coupled with the Thales BARAGE (Brouilleur Actif et Réactif avec GoniométriE) IED jammer and a set of laser warning receivers (LWRs).
In terms of firepower, the vehicle will feature a modified fire control system to allow it to use programmable munitions, and will also receive an FN Herstal DeFNder Medium remote weapon station (RWS), armed with the FN MAG 7.62 mm machine gun mounted on the turret. The vehicle’s communications are also being upgraded, with the addition of the new SICS (Système d’Information du Combat Scorpion) from Atos, along with the Contact Radio from Thales. The vehicle is also due to feature a new electronic architecture.
According to Nexter, industrial qualification tests are continuing in close collaboration with the DGA and the French Army.