Airbus Helicopters and the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) are pursuing a new set of studies to further the militarisation of the H160 and to define its associated support ecosystem in the frame of the Joint Light Helicopter program (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) This contract launches pre-development activities for the military version of the H160, also called the Guépard by the French armed forces, in order to meet the delivery schedule that was brought forward in May 2019 by the French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly.
The new set of studies will also focus on defining the optimal set-up for supporting the tri-service H160M fleet. Airbus Helicopters, Safran Helicopter Engines, and the DGA will work closely together in order to maximize the availability rate of the helicopters, as well as optimizing the cost of supporting the fleet.
«Launching this collaborative work between Industry and the Ministry of the Armed Forces in order to define the support framework for the Guépard and the associated processes, as early as the pre-development phase, is essential. The output will provide us with all the levers necessary to ensure a high level of availability at the H160M’s entry into service in the French armed forces», said Alexandra Cros, Vice President and Head of Governmental Affairs France at Airbus Helicopters. «The studies build upon the work and commitments taken recently in the global support contracts for the Cougar, Caracal, and Tiger fleets of the French armed forces».
The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force through the HIL programme. Bringing the launch of the HIL programme forward to 2021 will enable first deliveries to the French armed forces in 2026.
On 30 December 2019 the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) ordered the Archange airborne strategic intelligence program, comprising three Dassault Aviation Falcon 8X aircraft equipped with the Thales new-generation payload CUGE (universal electronic warfare capability). A contract has been awarded for the first two aircraft.
Dassault Aviation and the dozens of French companies associated with the Falcon programs wish to thank the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the DGA and the French Air Force for their confidence.
The required level of performance of the Archange Falcons necessitates highly complex integration work, something that is at the core of Dassault Aviation and Thales know-how.
«I am very proud and happy with the decision of the Ministry of the Armed Forces. The Archange Falcon will serve the French forces in the same way as the Falcons 10, 200, 50, 2000, 900 and 7X are already doing it», declared Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. «The special mission Falcons provide the perfect illustration of the dual competences of Dassault Aviation: our civil aircraft benefit from the cutting-edge technologies developed for our combat aircraft, which in return benefit from the industrial processes deployed for the highly competitive production of the Falcon aircraft».
The tri-jet Falcon 8X is the latest addition to the Falcon range. The business jet version can carry 8 passengers and 3 crew members over a distance of 6,450 NM/7,456 miles/12,000 km. It has digital flight controls which stem directly from Dassault Aviation’s experience acquired with the Mirage 2000 and Rafale. It is equipped with enhanced avionics system (EASY) digital flight deck and the totally unrivalled FalconEye combined vision system (CVS).
Exported to more than 90 countries, the Falcon aircraft are flexible and economic to fly. Their handling qualities, aerodynamics and versatility render them capable of fulfilling missions that go beyond civil aviation standards. They are designed by the design office that also develops the Rafale and nEUROn combat aircraft. Over the last 50 years, Dassault Aviation has customized many Falcons for purposes such as medical evacuation, cargo transport, maritime surveillance, electronic warfare, etc. These multirole aircraft represent about 10% of the Falcon fleet in service across the world.
December 03, 2019, at the Maritime Economy Symposium in Montpellier, the President of the French Republic announced the order of six new patrol boats for France’s overseas dependencies.
In accordance with the strategic goals of the 2019-2025 military program law, this order reinforces the protection of our maritime territories, and advances the renewal of this capability by two years.
In a context of increasing threats to fishing resources, biodiversity and international rules of the law of the sea, France intends to fully exercise its sovereignty and responsibilities in France and in its overseas dependencies.
This announcement follows the Ministerial Investment Committee of November 19, 2019, when Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly decided to launch the Patrouilleur d’Outre Mer (Overseas Patrol Vessel) program, managed by the Direction générale de l’armement (DGA – Directorate-General of Armaments).
That is why the renewal of naval assets for the surveillance of our overseas maritime territories, which began with the delivery of the three patrol vessels for the Antilles and Guiana between 2017 and 2019, continues today with this latest order, which will allow the replacement of the obsolete patrol vessels deployed in New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Reunion Island between 2022 and 2025.
Designed with extensive capabilities – and equipped in particular with an aerial drone – these overseas patrol boats will carry out missions of sovereignty and protection in the France’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), intervention against marine pollution and in favor of the environment, as well as rescue and assistance.
Thus, between 2017 and 2025, all the patrol vessels stationed overseas will have been renewed.
CERBERE (Capacité Expérimentale ROEM pour Ballons et Aérostats Légers – Experimental SIGINT Capability for Balloons and Light Aerostats), an airborne demonstrator measuring the electromagnetic environment, has been tested by the Direction générale de l’armement (Directorate General of Armament, DGA) near Lorient (Morbihan).
The collection of electromagnetic intelligence is essential to control the information and the knowledge of the adversary. On foreign theaters of operations, the armed forces are confronted with an increased density of electromagnetic emissions, due in particular to the development of telecommunications. They must therefore have optimized and innovative means of detection and localization.
In this perspective, fitting a SIGINT (SIGnals INTelligence) system on a light balloon offers two advantages. Placed at altitude, electromagnetic sensors are less constrained by the effects of terrain- masking (trees, buildings and the roundness of the Earth). They thus gain in detection capabilities. A balloon also offers a very long endurance at altitude, at a lower cost than a fleet of aircraft or drones.
Proving the feasibility of such a system is the challenge of the CERBERE experimental study. After a development phase, an essential step was taken in the summer of 2019 with the flight of the CERBERE demonstrator in the skies of Brittany. These tests were made possible thanks to the help of the Navy.
The test campaign was conducted by engineers and technicians from DGA’s Center of Expertise and Testing, with the industrial support of Ineo Défense and ONERA. The flights took place over two weeks over a training site near the ocean, and were conducted by naval and army personnel.
The objective of the tests was to evaluate the demonstrator’s performance by playing scenarios representative of the operational reality, whether the environment is maritime or terrestrial. Different simulated targets specifically implemented for the experiment were detected, located and identified.
The results of the CERBERE study will be taken into account to guide the future intelligence and electronic warfare programs run by the DGA for the benefit of the armed forces.
CERBERE (Capacité Expérimentale ROEM pour Ballons et Aérostats Légers – Experimental SIGINT Capability for Balloons and Light Aerostats)
The steel-cutting ceremony of the first Defence and Intervention Frigate (FDI) took place on the Naval Group site of Lorient. The ceremony was led in the presence of the Minister for Armed Forces, Florence Parly, the Head of the French Armament Directorate (DGA) Délégué général pour l’Armement, Joël Barre, the Chief of Staff of the French Navy Christophe Prazuck, the Chief of the Hellenic Navy Nikolaos Tsounis, many French officials and foreign delegations as well as Naval Group CEO, Hervé Guillou. The First of class will be delivered in 2023 and is part of a series of five vessels.
Sylvain Perrier, Naval Group Director of the FDI program declared during this event: «Today, after the successful completion of the initial studies and development phases, we are proud, to reach this first industrial milestone. This ceremony is the first for this major program for which, the DGA will be in charge of prime contract management to the benefit of the French Navy. Thanks to this program, Naval Group will also keep on developing its international exposure. This program will increase to fifteen the number of first-rank frigates of the French Navy, as planned in the French Military Spending Plan (LPM). We were able to uphold our commitment thanks to the collaborative work model we adopted with our client and to the mobilisation of state and industrial actors».
A digital multi-mission 4,500 tons-class frigate
The FDI is a high sea vessel with a 4,500 tons class displacement. Multipurpose and resilient, she is capable of operating, alone or within a naval force, through all of types of warfare: anti-surface, anti-air, anti-submarine and allows for special forces projection.
Strongly armed (Exocet MM40 B3C anti-surface missiles, Aster 15/30 anti-air missiles, MU90 antisubmarine torpedoes, artillery), the FDI is able to embark simultaneously a helicopter and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). She can also receive a Special Forces detachment with their two commando boats.
The FDI will be the first French frigate natively protected against cyber threats, with a Data Centre accommodating a great part of the ship applications. The FDI introduces the concept of a dedicated system for asymmetric threats warfare, distinct from the operation room. Located behind the bridge, it will lead asymmetrical warfare against air and surface threats such as mini-UAVs or tricked boats. The FDIwhich gathers the best of French technology in a compact platform. She is a powerful and innovative frigate, designed for facing evolving threats.
The design and production of the FDI build on the experience of the FREMM program: Naval Group benefits from the operational feedback given by the French Navy.
Displacement: 4,500 tons class;
Length: 122 meters/400 feet;
Beam: 18 meters/59 feet;
Maximum speed: 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h;
Autonomy: 45 days;
Accomodation: 125 + 28 passengers.
A large-scale industrial collaboration that particularly mobilises the Naval Group site of Lorient
Five defence and intervention frigates (FDI) have been ordered in April 2017 by the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) to the benefit of the French Navy.
The build of the first of class represents around one million hours of work for the teams of the Naval Group’ site of Lorient. Furthermore, it contributes to the economic development of its suppliers and subcontractors, to local employment around Lorient but also to the other Naval Group sites that brought their specific know-how to the program. The conception and development studies also represent around one million hours of work for the entire series.
Industrial key figures:
A 100% digital conception – zero paper plans;
1 million hours of production work for each unit of the series on the Naval Group’ site of Lorient;
1 million hours of conception and development for the program;
20 km/12.4 miles of tubes and 300 km/186.4 miles of cables for each FDI.
Many export opportunities
The future frigate targets the intermediary tonnage ships segment for which there is an international demand. Thanks to its modularity, the ship can be configured to fulfil diverse missions depending on the expressed needs. Thus, with on the one hand the Gowind 2,500-tonnes corvette, on the other hand the 6,000-tonnes FREMM and now the FDI, Naval Group proposes a complete offer for strongly armed military ships.
A Letter of Intention was signed on the 10th of October 2019 by the Greek Minister of Defence, Nicolaos Panagiotopoulos and the French Minister for Armed Forces, Florence Parly. This announcement is in line with the strategic cooperation between the two countries and will allow a close dialogue in order to bring the best answer to the needs of the Hellenic Navy.
On July 12 2019, during a ceremony presided over by the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, Naval Group launched the Suffren, the first of six nuclear submarines of the latest generation in Cherbourg. This event is a key step for the Barracuda program for the benefit of the French Navy.
Hervé Guillou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Naval Group, said: «We are proud to have presented to the President of the French Republic the first submarine of the Barracuda-class, a symbol of our exceptional know-how and our ability to master the most advanced technologies and the most complex products. The construction of the Suffren is a collective success, the result of a strong cooperation with our long-standing partners: the French Navy and the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), but also the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), TechnicAtome and all the manufacturers of the sector. Now, we are all focused on finalising the Suffren tests at the shipyard, with the start-up of the nuclear boiler room in the coming weeks, but also on producing the complete series. Maintaining our knowledge and adapting to new technologies are among our main priorities».
Vincent Martinot-Lagarde, Director of the Barracuda program at Naval Group, also commented: «To successfully complete this extraordinary project, several thousand women and men worked together, driven by the same values of team spirit and technical excellence. Today, on the occasion of this exceptional ceremony, we are very proud to present our work, which is the result of the extraordinary diversity of our skills».
Naval Group’s know-how and technological expertise
The Suffren is the first of the Barracuda-class series, designed to replace the Rubis-class generation. Naval Group is in charge of the construction of this submarines series, including the design and construction of the ship and information systems as well as the manufacturing of the main components of nuclear boiler rooms.
Naval Group is the overall prime contractor of the ship’s architecture (2 500 people) and TechnicAtome is the prime contractor for the nuclear reactor. The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) is in charge of the overall program, with the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) for the nuclear reactor.
With this program, Naval Group irrigates the French industry with more than 10,000 people and 800 companies involved
All the skills within the group are called upon to design and produce the Suffren and the following of the Barracuda series. All Naval Group sites are simultaneously mobilised. Nantes-Indret, Angoulême-Ruelle, Brest and Lorient design and produce different systems and modules. The Ollioules site is responsible for the design and production of the combat system. The entire program is managed from Cherbourg, where the submarines are assembled and tested.
The Toulon site will be in charge of the maintenance of the Suffren and gradually that of the entire series. The in-service support was taken into account from the submarine’s design stage to limit the number and duration of interventions, thus optimising the availability of the Barracuda-class at sea.
The Suffren: a technology and capacity leap
The Suffren is one of the stealthiest submarines over the world. This discretion, combined with its advanced detection capabilities, guarantees its acoustic superiority.
For the first time thanks to the Suffren-class submarines, the French Navy will have a deep strike capability with MBDA’s naval cruise missiles (MdCN). The latest generation of SSN also allows the discreet deployment of special forces underwater, in particular thanks to its «divers hatch» and the optional carrying of a dry deck shelter allowing for the deployment of underwater vehicles.
More discreet, manoeuvrable and mobile, the Suffren has the latest generation of systems, including a centralised and more automated driving.
The technical characteristics of the Suffren-class submarines
On July 04, 2019, the Directorate-General for Armaments (DGA) took delivery of the «Garonne» (A605), the fourth and final vessel in the Metropolitan Support and Assistance Vessels (BSAM) program, ordered from the Kership group of companies (Chantiers Piriou and Naval Group). This new Navy vessel will be based in Brest.
This new ship reinforces and modernizes the capabilities of the French Navy. An extremely versatile ship design, the BSAM is designed to carry out three types of missions: the support of naval forces (towing of large-tonnage ships; accompaniment and support of submarines; and training of the forces), maritime security (rescue at sea, assistance to ships in distress, fight against maritime pollution, etc.) and regional support activities (towing machinery, anchoring and maintenance of mooring boxes, lifting of wrecks …).
The first BSAM, the «Loire» (A602), operates from Toulon and the second one in the series, «Rhone» (A603), operates from Brest. The third ship, the «Seine» (A604), which will be admitted to active service in July, after its long-term shakedown cruise that ran from March 25 to June 25, will be based in Toulon.
On 2 July 2019, the Directorate General of Armament (DGA) received the second A330-MRTT Phénix multi-role tanker aircraft (MultiRole Tanker Transport) at Air Base 125 in Istres. This aircraft was delivered to the Air Force three months early and with a first MedEvac (Medical Evacuation) capability, so as to reach full operational capability in the fall.
It will allow medicalized transport of a dozen very seriously injured patients, or the medical transport of 40 lightly-injured patients requiring less medical assistance.
The MRTT Phénix is based on the airframe of the Airbus A330 airliner, militarized to allow it to meet its specific mission requirements: support of the air component of the nuclear deterrent; contribution to the permanent security posture; projection of forces and medicalized transport in case of emergency medical evacuation.
Thanks to its versatility, the MRTT Phoenix replaces two distinct fleets for this entire range of missions: the current in-flight refueling fleet of C135-FR and KC135R, and the strategic personnel and freight transport fleet of A310 and A340.
The military programming law 2019-2025 provides for the acceleration of the modernization of the equipment of the forces, and in particular of the tanker aircraft fleet. It will bring forward to 2023, two years earlier than planned, the delivery of the first twelve aircraft, and creating the conditions allowing a subsequent increase of the fleet to fifteen aircraft in following years.
Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomes this early delivery: «The Phoenix is an essential aircraft for the French forces, and for and our deterrence. It will replace aircraft, some of which are 60 years old, and represents a real revolution for the Air Force. Its versatility makes it a technological marvel, and it is an undeniable industrial success and an example of what a great European company – Airbus – knows how to build».
The French Defence Procurement Agency DGA has signed an order to purchase an additional H225M which will be operated by the French Air Force. The aircraft will be delivered in a configuration that allows it to be interoperable with the existing fleet of 10 H225Ms in the French Air Force and in particular it will be capable of inflight refuelling, an essential operational advantage that this helicopter offers.
The aircraft will be based in Cazaux and will be used for Special Forces and Search and Rescue missions.
«We are very proud that the French Air Force is renewing its trust in the reliable multirole H225M, having been the first to deploy the type in an operational theatre in 2006», said Alexandra Cros, Vice President and Head of Governmental Affairs France at Airbus Helicopters. «The H225M is a real military asset thanks to its versatility and its excellent range. Operational from ships and land with an all-weather capability and takeoff in less than five minutes, it’s always ready for assignment», she added.
The H225M, with more than 180 aircraft ordered, 97 helicopters delivered, and 110,000 flight hours accumulated to date, is a recognized combat-proven, versatile and reliable workhorse for military missions worldwide. The 11-tonne member of the Super Puma family is relied upon as a force multiplier by France, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. Indonesia has recently placed a follow-on order for an additional eight aircraft. Other recent customers for the H225M include Kuwait, Singapore, and Hungary who signed a contract for 16 H225Ms in December last year.
2 pilots + 1 chief of stick + 28 seats
2 pilots + 8 to 12 passengers
2 pilots + up to 11 stretchers + 4 seats
4,750 kg/10,472 lbs.
16.79 m/55.08 feet
3.96 m/13 feet
4.60 m/15.09 feet
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)
11,000 kg/24,251 lbs.
MTOW in external load configuration
11,200 kg/24,690 lbs.
5,715 kg/12,600 lbs.
5,285 kg/11,651 lbs.
Maximum cargo-sling load
4,750 kg/10,472 lbs.
Standard fuel capacity
2,247 kg/4,954 lbs.
ENGINES 2 TURBOMECA MAKILA 2A1
Take-off power per engine
1,567 kW/2,101 shp
PERFORMANCE AT MAXIMUM GROSS WEIGHT, ISA*, SL**
Maximum speed (Vne***)
324 km/h/175 knots
Fast cruise speed (at MCP****)
262 km/h/142 knots
Rate of climb
5.4 m/s/1,064 feet/min
Service ceiling (Vz = 0.508 m/s = 100 feet/min)
3,968 m/13,019 feet
Hover ceiling OGE***** at ISA*, MTOW, take-off power
792 m/2,600 feet
Maximum range without reserve at Economical Cruise Speed
The DGA has awarded Dassault Aviation the detailed definition study of the future surveillance and maritime intervention aircraft of the AVSIMAR (AVions de Surveillance et d’Intervention MARitime – Maritime Surveillance and Response Plane) program. This contract is part of a global effort to streamline the acquisition and support of specialized military aircraft, based on the design of Dassault Aviation’s Falcon series business aircraft.
A first phase of the program has already identified the best technical solution, based on the Falcon 2000 LXS business aircraft, which is faster and more durable than the aircraft currently in service. The recently awarded study, which has a duration of 12 months, is preparing the acquisition contract planned for 2020. In particular, it must define the necessary adaptations to fulfill the operational missions of surveillance and maritime intervention, which in essence are very varied.
The AVSIMAR program must renew the air component of the French Navy dedicated to the surveillance and intervention for the maritime defense of the territory and the action of the State at sea. This mission is currently performed by 8 Falcon 50M and 5 Falcon 200 Gardian, who will be nearly forty at the time of their replacement. The Falcon 50M has recently distinguished itself by allowing the detection of escaped oil slicks from the two cargo ships colliding off Corsica.
To guarantee the intervention capability of the French Navy, the 2019-2025 military programming law provides for the delivery of the first three aircraft by 2025.