PARIS, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The French government has handed a $214 million contract for 200 heavy trucks for the French army to Italy's Iveco, denying a bid from domestic producer Renault.
The head of Renault Trucks has since protested the decision in an open letter to Les Echos, a French newspaper that first reported on the deal.
Signed at the end of last month, the contract has Iveco deliver a first batch of 200 of its 15-ton, eight-wheel-drive trucks in 2013 and 2014, Defensenews.com reports, citing remarks made Tuesday by an official at the French arms procurement agency DGA. They come as container, shelter, personnel and recovery vehicles and can operate on virtually all terrain surfaces.
The vehicles would feed a $1.3 billion procurement program aimed at overhauling the French army's truck fleet. Defensenews.com says the total number of trucks to be renewed will reach 2,000.
Iveco, a truck maker owned by Fiat, for the deal teamed with French company Lohr, which will act as the main supplier to the trucks. Competitor Renault Trucks is owned by Sweden's Volvo but has most of its production facilities in France.
Renault has appealed the decision by the DGA to hand Iveco the contract but lost the proceedings in mid-December.
Earlier this week, France announced yet another arms deal.
The French Defense Ministry said in a statement it has ordered a batch of 200 Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles for an undisclosed amount. According to MBDA, the Meteor, powered by a German-engineered ramjet, has up to six times the kinematic performance of current air-air missiles of its type.
The beyond-visual-range missiles will equip France's new Rafale jets, made by domestic company Dassault. To be delivered in 2018, the missiles are built under a joint European defense project headed by MBDA UK.
Apart from Britain and France, partner nations also include Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
Britain and Sweden will be the first nations to have the Meteor missiles in operation in 2015, mounted to their Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, and SAAB Gripen jets, respectively. The remaining nations (Germany, Italy and Spain) will use the missiles with the Eurofighter Typhoon.
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