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Armored Cars: Renault Sherpa

January 31, 2016

French Renault Sherpa 4x4 02

Its startling resemblance to AM General’s iconic Humvee is deliberate. The Renault Sherpa is a French analog of the American workhorse and a serious contender as its eventual replacement. The only difference between the rival platforms is age–the Sherpa was first unveiled in 2006 to meet strong demand for so-called “tactical vehicles.”

Bear in mind the HMMWV’s long career dates back to 1985 when it first entered service.

The Sherpa also marks a complete departure from the French military’s preference for lightweight 4×4’s like the Panhard VBL whose own DNA goes back to the Willys Jeep that used to be manufactured in France.

To entice potential customers among world militaries Renault cultivated its Sherpa line into a family of 10-ton wheeled vehicles for different mobility requirements. The universal features among all Sherpa variants are a common chassis, four-wheel drive automatic suspension, a 215 horsepower four-cylinder diesel engine, and limited armor protection.

They’re also recognizable for the Renault emblem on their grille.

Sherpa variants include an APC, a station wagon with an expanded passenger compartment, an open top recce vehicle, a stripped down commando with lots of seating, and a flatbed truck that carries either cargo or a self-propelled mortar. Renault also sells the chassis of the Sherpa for militaries who want to customize their 4×4’s.

The Sherpa at its most basic is designated the Light Scout. This is the variant that’s closest to the Humvee and has a slantback cargo compartment.

An alternate configuration of the Light Scout is called the the Scout HI equipped with a 360-degree armor package for combat missions.

The big brother of the Light Scout is the Sherpa Light APC that can transport 10 soldiers who enter via a rear swing door. It’s meant as a stand-in for a mine-resistant truck and can support additional protective features.

The Sherpa Station Wagon has a passenger compartment for five people behind the one-man weapon station. It functions as a light truck for logistics and supply.

The Sherpa Light Special Forces is a stripped down variant for long-range recce missions–the type that were once the domain of Land Rovers–favored by NATO commandos. It compensates for a lack of armor by having multiple weapon stations.

The Sherpa Carrier is a flatbed truck that may or may not support self-propelled weapon systems when it isn’t hauling cargo.

A decade since it was first exhibited at an arms show the Sherpa line has found its niche in a crowded market. Aside from the French army and NATO Sherpa’s have been sold to Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Lebanon, Peru, and Saudi Arabia. A licensed version of the Sherpa Light Scout is manufactured by Brazilian defense contractor Avibras as the Tupi while its chassis was used for Indonesia’s homegrown Komodo.

The Sherpa and its variants are available to North American customers via Mack Defense, an old school truck manufacturer that’s now a subsidiary of the Volvo Group–Renault’s parent.