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Hornet (RCWS)

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Hornet is a French company, part of the Arquus group, created in 2021, dedicated to the commercialisation of Remote controlled weapon stations (RCWS). Its products, also using the name Hornet and whose development started in the context of the project Scorpion, already equip the French army and are now sold on the international market.

The Hornet logo
A Hornet RCWS with its smoke grenade launcher.


RCWS provide an operator with the ability to acquire and engage targets while inside a vehicle, protected by its armor. Asymmetric warfare in the early twenty-first century, such as the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War, have generalized their use. In particular, they were carried out in the context of urban warfare during which turret operators were not protected from fire from above.[1]

Panhard was the first French company to develop such a system in the late 2000s, offering the WASP RCWS as a solution for the French Army vehicles.[2]

With project Scorpion, which consists in the renewal of an important part of the French Army armored vehicles, and the creation of Arquus out of the fusion of Panhard, Renault Truck Defense and ACMAT, the Hornet RCWS was developed.[3]

In 2021, it was decided that the Hornet RCWS would be available for export through the creation of the Hornet company within Arquus. The creation was officially announced at the International Defence Exhibition 2021 in Abu Dhabi.[4]



Electro-optical unit[edit]

For most versions of the Hornet RCWS, the optronic system is a Safran Electronics & Defense Mineo. The Mineo is characterized by the integration in a single module of a rangefinder, an uncooled IR camera and three daytime cameras. This configuration allows changes of field of view without transition.[5]

Dual axis[edit]

Whether it is with a smoke grenade launcher or a radar, the Hornet can be fitted with a ring independent from the axis of the weapon itself. It allows the crew to respond to two different immediate threats at the same time (for the smoke grenade launcher) or to scan the area at 360° while maintaining its observation capabilities using the optronic unit (for the radar).[6]

Weapons and equipment[edit]

The Hornet RCWS can be fitted with :

  • 7,62mm FN MAG-58 machine gun
  • 12,7mm M2 Browning machine gun
  • GMG 40mm automatic grenade launcher
  • Akeron MP
  • Lacroix Galix smoke-launcher ring


A Hornet RCWS on a EBMR-L Serval armored vehicle

More than 1700 Hornet units have been ordered and will be delivered for project Scorpion for the renewal of French armored vehicles.[7] The Hornet, counting all of its versions, has been fitted on the VBMR Griffon and Engin blindé de reconnaissance et de combat EBRC Jaguar armored vehicles and could be fitted on the Serval in the future. Since 2021 and the creation of the Hornet, RCWS are also available for export.[8]

In December 2021, the first Griffon fitted with Hornet RCWS have been deployed in Mali in the context of Operation Barkhane.[9]


Several versions of the Hornet have been developed or are under development.

Hornet range[edit]

The Hornet range includes the Hornet (T1), Hornet Lite (T2), and Hornet S (T3).[10]


It is the standard version, able to be fitted with 7,62mm, 12,7mm machine guns or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher. It is currently fitted on the Griffon armored vehicle in the French Army.[11]

Hornet Lite[edit]

A Hornet S on a EBRC Jaguar armored vehicle

Hornet Lite is a lighter version of the Hornet which can only host a 7,62mm MAG 58 machine gun and no ring underneath the main structure.[12]

Hornet S[edit]

The main particularity of the Hornet S relies in the idea that its optronic system and its weapon function of two different axis (with a third axis in case the vehicle is fitted with a turret), providing superior hunter-killer capabilities. Unlike the other versions, the Hornet S is fitted with a Safran Electronics & Defense PASEO optronic system, giving it far superior observation capabilities. It is currently fitted on the Jaguar Armored vehicle in the French Army.[13]

Hornet solutions[edit]

A Hornet Stealth Protection at Eurosatory 2022

In addition to the main range Hornet commercialize various integrated solutions which expand or modify the possibilities offered by the Hornet range by adding new functionalities.[14]

Hornet Stealth Protection[edit]

Hornet Stealth Protection is a soft-kill active protection system relying on the coupling of a Metravib acoustic detector and a Lacroix Galix smoke-laucher ring to the main weapon. It allows the crew to address two immediate threats from two different directions through two separate effectors.[15]

Hornet Air Guard[edit]

A Hornet Airguard at Eurosatory 2022

Hornet Air Guard provides counter-UAS capabilities through the use of Heckler & Koch GMG 40 mm automatic grenade launcher with Rheinmetall 40 mm x 53 Airburst Munition ABM coupled with a radar and a Hydra RF system provided by CerbAir.[16] [17]

Hornet Akeron[edit]

Hornet Akeron consists in a standard Hornet RCWS fitted with an Akeron MP missile, providing anti-tank capabilities.[18]


  1. Uyanik, Saffet (September 2019). "Behind the Crosshairs: Armoring Up with Remote Weapon Systems as the New Game Changers of Today's Battlefield". Defence Turkey (94). Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  2. Lagneau, Laurent. "Panhard lance une offre pour son tourelleau WASP". Opex360. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  3. "Le projet Scorpion". Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  4. Foss, Christopher F. "IDEX 2021: Arquus launches new Hornet Business Unit for RWS exports". Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  5. "MINEO - Medium range targeting sensor". Safran. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  6. Valpolini, Paolo. "Hornet unveils three variants of its RCWS". EDR Magazine. Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  7. Foss, Christopher F. "IDEX 2021: Arquus launches new Hornet Business Unit for RWS exports". Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  8. Tollet, Marin. "Arquus lance la Business Unit Hornet pour proposer sa gamme de tourelleaux télé-opérés à l'international". Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  9. "BARKHANE - Premier déploiement pour les Griffon". Ministère des armées. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  10. "Hornet, l'atout d'Arquus pour s'imposer dans le segment des tourelleaux téléopérés". Forces Operations Blog. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  11. "ARQUUS RESPONSABLE DE LA FONCTION MOBILITÉ VBMR". Arquus. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  12. "Hornet, l'atout d'Arquus pour s'imposer dans le segment des tourelleaux téléopérés". Forces Operations Blog. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  13. "EBRC JAGUAR - EBRC - Blindé Jaguar de l'armée". Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  14. Valpolini, Paolo. "Hornet unveils three variants of its RCWS". edrmagazine.e. edrmagazine. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  15. Valpolini, Paolo. "Hornet unveils three variants of its RCWS". EDR Magazine. Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  16. "Hornet Air Guard at AUSA". Hornet. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  17. "HORNET AIR GUARD ON HUMVEE SABER BLADE EDITION". Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  18. LAGNEAU, Laurent. "Arquus a dévoilé le Scarabée « Akeron », un blindé léger « tueur » de chars". Retrieved 2 November 2022.

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