According to information published by the "Zone Militaire" website on December 31, 2021, French Company Nexter was contacted by the Indian Government in the framework to participate to the Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCVs) program of the Indian Army and could propose the modernized Leclerc XLR Main Battle Tank.

Nexter has developed the Leclerc-XLR main battle tank, a modernized version of the Leclerc tank in service with the French army

India published a Request for Information (RFI) in June 2021 for the procurement of 1,700 main battle tanks that would replace the old Russian-designed T-72M/M1 Ajeya MBTs (Main Battle Tanks).

Currently, the French army has launched a program to modernize its fleet of Leclerc Main Battle Tanks (MBT) to the standard Leclerc XLR for 2028. This program constitutes the third operation launched by the French Ministry of Defence under the SCORPION program intended to modernize the French Army's contact forces. Valued at approximately €330 million, the contract provides for the delivery of 200 "Renovated Leclerc" tanks and 18 "Renovated DCL" armoured recovery vehicles based on the Leclerc MBT from 2020.

The upgraded Leclerc MBT will have more firepower and protection. It also will be fitted with a new remotely operated weapon station mounted on the roof of the turret as well as a new modernized computerized firing control system.

Citing the "Zone Militaire" website, following a question asked by the French Deputy Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, if the French company Nexter could win the procurement of the 1,700 MBTs for India, French industry could relaunch production of the Leclerc tanks for India and France will be able to offer a new competitive price of Leclerc tank for the Indian army and for the export market.

According to the military balance 2020, currently, the French army has a total of 222 Leclerc MBTs, but the French Deputy Nicolas Dupont-Aignan said, today the needs of the French army would be to have 400 tanks.

India could start the replacement of its old T-72 MBTS from 2030, and the French defence minister said, Nexter with the German company Kraus-Maffei Wegman under the umbrella of KNDS are studying solutions to meet Indian demand.

The Leclerc

The Leclerc XLR is a modernized version of the French-made Leclerc Main Battle Tank (MBT) designed and manufactured by the French Company Nexter Systems. will keep the same armament as the standard Leclerc tank which consists of a Giat 120 mm 52 calibre smoothbore gun designated the CN 120-26.

The turret of the Leclerc XLR is equipped with an automatic loading system that contains 22 rounds of ready-use ammunition normally loaded from outside through a small hatch in the back of the turret bustle. The new Leclerc will be able to fire two main types of 120 mm ammunition, the APFSDS (Armour-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding-Sabot) with a muzzle velocity of 1,790 m/s and HEAT (High-Explosive Anti-Tank) with a muzzle velocity of 1,100 m/s, both having a semi-combustible cartridge case containing a dual-base solid propellant.

The Leclerc XLR is upgraded with a new armour package that includes additional modular armour on the hull and the turret. The front part of the hull side is protected by thick passive armour, while the rear part is fitted with wire cage armour to protect the engine compartment against attacks of RPGs (Rocket-Propelled Grenade).

“The Leclerc tank with its mass of only 55 tons, its good mobility with its 1,500 hp engine and the excellence of its turret and firing system, is very well placed” to win the FRCV contract, Dupont-Aignan noted.

The Leclerc is lighter than most major Western tanks such as the US M1-Abrams, British Challenger and German Leopard-2, all of which weigh over 60 tons.

The Leclerc also has a three-man crew, unlike the other three Western designs, with the 'loader' absent. In place of the loader, a soldier who manually inserts rounds into the gun, the Leclerc has an 'autoloader' device for the purpose; Russian tanks such as the T-72 and T-90 also have auto-loaders. The Leclerc also has an advanced communications system to network with ground and air units.

The Leclerc tanks of the French Army are currently being upgraded to the Leclerc XLR standard, which would feature a modular armour package, new combat information system, radios, jammers and remotely operated machine gun.

Nexter is working on a futuristic tank project with Germany's Krauss Maffei Wegmann for a common tank to replace the Leclerc and Leopard 2, but the vehicles are unlikely to enter mass production by 2040. The French government's response in the National Assembly did not specify what kind of tank Nexter would offer to India.