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France is already sending one armored ‘oddity’ to Ukraine. Now it might send a slightly odder one.

French soldiers with AMX-10P armored vehiclesFrench soldiers with AMX-10P armored vehicles at a UNIFIL base in southern Lebanon in September 2006.

THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

  • France is reportedly considering sending AMX-10P amphibious infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine.
  • France has already sent its AMX-10RC armored vehicle to Ukraine, among other military hardware.
  • The AMX-10P may have some utility but it’s unclear how many France has or what condition they’re in.

France may send Ukraine its AMX-10Ps, an amphibious infantry fighting vehicles that the French military took out of service nearly a decade ago.

While the transfer isn’t confirmed, the report raises questions about how many are available and their mechanical condition.

The potential arms sale was first reported on Twitter in February by French defense journalist Jean-Dominique Merchet and later picked up by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

France may send 25 AMX-10Ps, Merchet said. Paris has already sent its Caesar 155 mm self-propelled howitzer and its AMX-10RC armored car. The AMX-10RC’s heavy cannon and light design has led some to call it a “bit of an oddity.”

French soldiers in an AMX-10RC in AfghanistanFrench soldiers practice shooting an AMX-10RC in Afghanistan in September 2010.

JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images

The AMX-10P first appeared in 1968 and went into production in 1973. It was one of a new generation of infantry fighting vehicles — such as the US’s M2 Bradley and the Soviets’ BMP — that replaced lightly armed armored personnel carriers in the 1970s.

The AMX-10P’s fully amphibious capability set it apart from its US and Soviet counterparts, which need slight adjustments to operate in water, and it could prove useful for crossing Ukraine’s many rivers.

The AMX-10P is a roughly 15-ton tracked vehicle with a crew of three — commander, driver, and gunner — as well as room for eight infantry. While it came in 15 versions, the basic model used by the French Army has a turret with a 20 mm cannon and can travel 40 mph. Some variants were armed with a 90 mm gun, Milan and HOT anti-tank missiles, or a 120 mm mortar, and other models were designed for command, forward observer, and radar operations.

The AMX-10P weighs about half the weight of a 27-ton Bradley. One reason for that may be the AMX-10P’s welded aluminum armor, which is less than an inch thick on the front hull and thinner elsewhere. That can defend against shrapnel, small-arms fire, and light cannon rounds but not anti-tank shells and rockets.

French AMX-10P armored vehicleTroops exit an AMX-10P armored vehicle in France

KEYSTONE-FRANCE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

About 2,000 AMX-10Ps were manufactured between 1973 and 1985. In addition to France, the AMX-10P has been used by nine countries, including Greece, Iraq, and Singapore.

A few AMX-10Ps were upgraded with extra armor and better gearboxes in the 2000s, but the vehicle has been replaced in French service by the 25-ton VBCI — an eight-wheeled, 25-ton infantry fighting vehicle similar to the US’s Stryker and the wheeled VBMR Griffon.

French armor officers considered the AMX-10P to be “very sturdy,” Léo Péria-Peigné, a defense expert at the French Institute of International Relations, told Insider, calling it “very simple, quite efficient.”

However, by the time the AMX-10P was retired, the vehicles “were quite tired,” Péria-Peigné said. Indeed, he was surprised to learn that there were any available to be sent to Ukraine: “In France, when a vehicle is retired or replaced, it doesn’t exist anymore.”

That raises questions about the condition of the remaining AMX-10Ps. Ukraine must already cope with a garage-sale collection of donated armored vehicles from numerous countries.

French AMX-10P armored vehicleA French AMX-10P enters a UNIFIL base in southern Lebanon in September 2006.

THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

Spain is sending 10 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine — but they are in such poor condition that the Spanish government is spending millions to refurbish them. Germany will sell 88 Leopard 1 tanks — which debuted in 1965 — but they also need refurbishment.

This suggests that it may be a while before Ukraine gets any AMX-10Ps. While Kyiv is happy to get whatever armor it can, this will be yet another vehicle that Ukrainian troops will have to learn to operate, repair, and supply — while the AMX-10P and AMX-10RC share some automotive components, they are not related.

Nonetheless, the AMX-10P would be a welcome addition to Ukraine’s military, though not a crucial one. It is reasonably fast and it is a lightweight tracked vehicle, which should enable it to traverse smaller bridges and soft terrain.

It is also relatively easy to learn and operate, Péria-Peigné said, describing it as “simpler than most modern” infantry fighting vehicles. As Ukraine struggles to assimilate a plethora of Western arms quickly, an old but simple armored vehicle may be good enough.

Michael Peck is a defense writer whose work has appeared in Forbes, Defense News, Foreign Policy magazine, and other publications. He holds a master’s in political science. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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