France selects Airbus and Thales to deliver future digital battlefield solutions
The French defense procurement agency (DGA) has awarded Thales and Airbus a 10-year contract for the new joint tactical signals intelligence (SIGINT) system.
This joint tactical SIGINT system will provide French armed forces command with an expanded tactical electronic support measures (ESM) capability. It will upgrade the electronic warfare capabilities of front-line units, providing a set of high-performance portable or vehicle-mounted assets compatible with the latest communications technologies.
The new SIGINT system will upgrade the French forces’ critical signals monitoring, direction finding and spectrum analysis capabilities. It will equip the three armed forces with a common information system and set of sensors and is designated a high-impact program (PEM), alongside CONTACT and SCORPION, under France’s defense spending plan.
It will equip the electronic support vehicles of the French Army’s 54th Signals Regiment (SCORPION program), the French Navy’s frontline warships and the Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft, and could be deployed to protect air bases on military operations overseas.
“Our armed forces face an increasing number of threats and need to rely on ever-expanding volumes of data,” said François Lombard, Director of Intelligence Business at Airbus Defence and Space. “Combined with aerial and satellite imagery and other sources, these new electronic intelligence capabilities will make it possible to identify these threats, and above all to characterize them with significantly greater precision.”
The new system will be one of its kind in service as the French forces will rely on the same logistics infrastructure to simplify the training of specialist operators and optimize through-life support delivery.
In the first phase, it will provide the three French armed forces with an initial operational capability for signals monitoring, with subsequent optional tranches to significantly increase the number of units in service. Whereas new functions such as new data analytics functions for the information system will be added incrementally over the term of the contract to provide the French armed forces with a set of state-of-the-art electronic warfare systems and capabilities.
“As risks evolve and expand, reliable intelligence is an essential element of sovereignty and a strategic asset for operational decision-making, force protection, territorial integrity and civil security” said Marc Darmon, Executive Vice President, Secure Communications and Information Systems, Thales. “We are proud to be taking part in this program to upgrade France’s intelligence capabilities in support of front-line forces across all environments and to be helping to keep them safe and effective on their crucial missions” he added.
Thales will draw on the SIGINT expertise developed on several legacy programs such as COHORTE (the current French Army tactical SIGINT system), MINREM (French Navy SIGINT system), ARCHANGE (French Air Force new-generation SIGINT aircraft) and CLOVIS (strategic interministerial communications localization project). Thales will also build on its capabilities in end-to-end communications, radio communications and communications security.
Meanwhile, Airbus will provide its expertise in strategic ELINT systems, drawing on its experience on programs such as RAMSES (strategic radio and satellite communications information system) and PARADOS (radio signal acquisition sensor). These systems are currently in operational service with France’s defense intelligence agency, Direction du Renseignement Militaire (DRM), the French Army, the French Air and Space Force, and the French Navy.