The French defence procurement agency (DGA) has awarded the order for conditional tranche 4 (TC4) of the SCORPION programme to Nexter, Arquus and Thales, operating through the EBMR consortium.
Tranche TC4 corresponds to an additional 88 JAGUAR armoured reconnaissance and fighting vehicles and 302 GRIFFON multirole armoured vehicles. This new order will bring the number of JAGUAR and GRIFFON vehicles ordered to 150 and 909 respectively, in line with the target laid out in France’s 2019-25 Military Programming Law. This represents half of the French government’s total commitment for JAGUARs and GRIFFONs (excluding the MEPAC variant) to be acquired under the SCORPION programme to renew the medium-tonnage segment of the French Army’s armoured vehicle fleet. The TC4 award comes shortly after an order was placed for 54 GRIFFON MEPAC versions, which are equipped with a 120-mm mortar, with deliveries scheduled from 2024.
These two awards were announced by the French Prime Minister during his visit to Nexter’s Roanne site on 19 February. This latest order underscores France’s continuing confidence in the EBMR consortium partners, which have been ensuring on-time deliveries since the beginning of the programme. It provides Nexter, Arquus and Thales, as well as the entire land defence industrial and technological base in France, with better visibility of their industrial activity through to 2025.
Sensor solutions provider HENSOLDT has signed a contract worth over a hundred million Euros with mission combat system integrator Thales, to deliver its TRS-4D naval radar to the future multi-purpose frigates F126 of the German Navy.
Contracted in 2020, F126 is the latest frigate programme for the German Navy. The F126 class will consist of four ships (with an option for two more ships); the program also includes multiple land-based test and training sites. The first frigate F126 is expected to be delivered to the customer in 2028. The entire programme will run for over ten years.
HENSOLDT’s TRS-4D radar will be installed in its non-rotating version with four fixed-panel arrays. The integration of the radar on the ships and shore installations will be done by Thales to deliver a mission and combat system that complies with the German requirements.
First deliveries are scheduled for 2025. With this system, in combination with other systems and sensors onboard, F126 has the ability to operate in the most complex maritime environments, and therefore contribute internationally to securing safety and stability.
Gerben Edelijn, Vice President Thales Above Water Systems: «We are happy to work together with HENSOLDT and give the Frigates F126 a sensor suite that fully complies with the German requirements. German and Netherlands’ navies and industry have a long tradition of working together with formidable results and we are looking forward to continuing this tradition».
«Our TRS-4D and its high-end components are deployed onboard several German Navy ships offering a high degree of commonalities to the customer», said Markus Rothmaier, Vice President Naval & Ground Radars at HENSOLDT. «I am proud that we are able to offer the German Navy, together with Thales’ sensor technology and combat system, a comprehensive and truly European solution».
Radars of the TRS-4D product family are already in service in different versions onboard German Navy ships, among them the Frigate F125 and the Corvette K130 (second batch) and benefit from continuous product improvements and advantages with regards to spare part management and training. For this reason, TRS-4D NR has been pre-selected by the German Navy.
TRS-4D Fixed Panel
TRS-4D is HENSOLDT’s latest member of the C-Band (NATO G-Band) naval radar family. It is available with a single face rotating antenna and also as a four fixed-panel configuration.
Based on the most advanced Gallium Nitride Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) sensor technology with multiple digitally formed beams, the new generation TRS-4D opens a new dimension for maritime missions.
For threatening targets, the TRS-4D initiates a track within a single scan using its electronic scanning capability. This results in a reliable, immediate target alert.
The system automatically classifies targets as high priority threats and allocates additional radar illumination (Cued Track).
The allocation of radar resources to different scan types provides a versatile combination of volume search, surface search and high-priority tracking.
The radar has sufficient capacity to uphold all functions simultaneously even in stressing situations with high target density and challenging littoral and coastal clutter environments. This ensures platform survivability and mission success.
TRS-4D’s unique concept of simultaneous multi-beams and Doppler processing ensures reliable performance of all operational tasks at a high update rate.
It’s very flexible installation concept enables ships like offshore patrol vessels, corvettes and frigates to exert the different functions of a shipborne surveillance and target acquisition radar, in blue waters and in complex littoral environment with high target densities.
TRS-4D marks an innovative step beyond conventional radar into a «new dimension» of operational capabilities. The outstanding benefits of the new technology are tailor-made for naval customers.
250 km/155 miles
360° (four fixed panels)
Target detection capability of 0.01 m² Radar Cross-Section (RCS)
Capacity of 1500 targets 3D tracking
Track range performance
fighter aircraft > 110 km/68 miles, small surface target > 14 km/8.7 miles
The CERES space system (Capacité de Renseignement Electromagnétique Spatiale or Space-based Signal Intelligence Capability) satellites designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales for the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) have been successfully launched from the European spaceport in French Guiana, on-board a Vega launcher.
«We are ready to go with the next generation of space surveillance capability for France: CERES! Entrusting Airbus with the construction and full space system responsibility is a ringing endorsement of our expertise and the quality of our technology, acquired in particular from the ESSAIM and ELISA demonstrators», said Jean Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus. «The three CERES satellites will provide France with its first satellite system for signal intelligence, thus confirming our ability to act as prime contractor for French space-based intelligence systems», he continued.
CERES is designed to detect and geo-locate electromagnetic signals from radio communication systems and radars from areas where surface sensors cannot reach. From its low Earth orbit, CERES is free from airspace overflight constraints and can operate in all types of weather. The system will provide in-depth information to support military operations for the French Armed Forces, thus improving situational awareness.
«CERES will complete the French strategic and tactical defence intelligence capability with its first signal intelligence (SIGINT) satellite system. DGA trusts Thales to be in charge of the CERES end-to-end mission performance, for which we rely on our experience of more than 20 years in space-based SIGINT, especially with ESSAIM and ELISA, our unique know-how in satellite payloads and user ground segments, and our wide knowledge in SIGINT and electronic warfare in all environments», said Philippe Duhamel, Executive Vice-President, Defence Mission Systems at Thales.
The system includes the space segment consisting of a swarm of three identical satellites carrying the SIGINT payload, as well as the user and ground control segments.
Airbus Defence and Space and Thales are co-contractors for the full end-to-end system. Airbus is responsible for the global system integration and the space segment comprising the three satellites, while Thales is responsible for full mission chain and system performance, going from on-board payload to user ground segment. In addition, Thales Alenia Space acted as a subcontractor to Airbus in supplying the satellites’ platforms. The French space agency, CNES, as assisting partner to the DGA, procured the launch services and the ground control segment.
CERES draws on Airbus and Thales’ experience acquired from the ESSAIM (communications intelligence) and ELISA (electronic intelligence) micro-satellite demonstrators launched in 2004 and 2011 respectively. The technical and operational lessons learnt from these systems were key to enabling the very high performance in electromagnetic detection and compatibility, demanded by this mission.
Thales Sea Fire, full digital radar is qualified by the DGA after exhaustive and thorough testing in Saint-Mandrier, the reference trial centre for the French naval forces. The radar is now handed over to Naval Group for integration into combat system on-board the FDI frigates.
Over a period of 18 months, the Sea Fire radar underwent a substantial number of land-based tests, mobilising a vast panel of resources and combined teams from the DGA, Thales and Naval Group. All testing took place at the Shore Integration Facility (SIF) on the DGA’s SESDA site in Saint-Mandrier in the South of France – a major testing reference centre in Europe for the naval sector. Since 1969, this facility has been testing and qualifying ashore every combat system and critical sensors of major ships (frigates and aircraft carriers) in service within the French Navy.
Evaluated and tested against an extensive range of situations including surface targets (light boats, surface vessels…), air targets (helicopters, jets, missiles, drones, etc.) in various environments. – the Sea Fire assured its ground-breaking ability to search simultaneously for air and surface targets in a difficult environment, scanning a range of several hundred kilometres with 90° in elevation and an unmatched refresh rate.
Thanks to the Sea Fire’s unique full digital technology (for instance digital beamforming), the radar delivers enhanced performance for all missions through dynamic radar resource management with very short response time. This digital radar is at the forefront of technological innovation and benefits from all Thales’s Big Data and cybersecurity expertise.
In addition, through its advanced radar software, the digital nature of the Sea Fire made possible the implementation of a high fidelity digital twin. Compared to classical simulations, the digital twin of the Sea Fire truly reproduces the radars’ behaviour and performance. It supports radar development throughout the product life cycle from initial development to in-service support, operation and upgrades. The use of a digital twin played a key role in securing the development schedule of the Sea Fire despite the Covid-19 crisis.
Assembled in Limours, south of Paris, with the contribution of a network of French small and medium- sized companies, Sea Fire production started in May 2018 and the first FDI shipset was delivered in May 2021 (4 panels).
Nexter, Thales and Arquus, as part of the temporary grouping of companies (GME) EBMR (Engins Blindés Multi-Rôles), presented the 128th GRIFFON planned for 2020 to the French Delegation for Armaments (DGA). Under the terms of the SCORPION program, and despite an unprecedented health crisis that profoundly affected production, the three manufacturers were able to take the challenge and meet their contractual objectives.
After this step, the last GRIFFONs will have to be submitted to the verification operations carried out by the DGA’s quality department. The vehicles will then be transported to the Canjuers site where the Army will proceed to take them into account; it is then that the DGA will formally receive them. To date, 90 GRIFFON have completed this route, adding to the 92 GRIFFON delivered in 2019. From January 2021, the last vehicles that left the production line in December will join them in the regiments, catching up very early in 2021 with the delay due to the health crisis.
From March 2020, Covid-19 has indeed strongly disrupted the industrial organization of the program. The site of Roanne, where the GRIFFON and JAGUAR are assembled, was forced to suspend its activity from March 20 to 30 in order to allow the installation of a structure adapted to the resumption of the activity under maximum safety conditions. Since then, two teams have been working on the lines in shifts of eight consecutive hours (2×8) to ensure that the lines are operational during these 16-hour days. Closely linked to their government contacts and after consulting their suppliers, the members of the GME quickly reviewed the initial schedule: the 2020 objectives were maintained for GRIFFON; the first deliveries of JAGUAR were postponed to April 2021; and this, while preserving the number of deliveries at the end of 2021.
The year 2020 was marked by the passage of several major milestones for the GME. In September, the DGA notified the third conditional tranche of the EBMR contract, enabling the second batch of vehicles (271 GRIFFON and 42 JAGUAR by 2023) to go into production. In November, the GRIFFON command post vehicle (EPC) was qualified. Thus, among the 128 GRIFFONs of 2020, 35 examples of this new variant were presented to the administration, an additional difficulty that the EPC teams overcame. Finally, the new-generation T1 remotely operated turret that will arm the GRIFFONs was also qualified by the DGA.
Nexter, Arquus and Thales would like to pay tribute to the exceptional commitment of their teams. Their sense of duty and creativity have enabled them to meet the expectations of the French Army and its combatants as best they could, while greatly limiting the impact of the health crisis.
The AirMaster C is the latest airborne surveillance radar from Thales and has a 30% lower SWaP (Size, Weight and Power) than the other radars in its class.
The AirMaster C covers the full spectrum of land, air and maritime surveillance missions and offers state-of-the-art target detection capabilities; it is the subject of preliminary integration studies on joint light helicopter (Guépard) which are in progress.
Users benefit from innovative technologies, with a unique 2D AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) antenna based on SiGe (Silicon-Germanium) technology, and cognitive and predictive maintenance capabilities drawing on Thales’s and the French Armament General Directorate’s investments in artificial intelligence.
Threat detection, identification and surveillance missions depend on a force’s ability to operate in any type of environment and all weather conditions. Drawing on its experience with the successful Master series of radars, Thales has developed a new, ultra-compact surveillance radar with enhanced target detection capabilities for fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). With its low integration and operating costs and high availability and performance, the AirMaster C sets a new standard for airborne radars.
The nature of armed confrontation is constantly evolving. From the intrastate conflicts of the post-Cold War period to the asymmetric threats of the early 21st century and, more recently, the resurgence of rivalries between major powers, armed forces around the world must constantly adapt as they face different types of adversaries in a diverse array of environments: open ocean, coastal areas, remote deserts and urban spaces.
Responding to these rapid changes, Thales has developed the AirMaster C, a new surveillance radar with an ultra-compact, programmable 2D active antenna based on SiGe (silicon-germanium) technology. SiGe is much more energy efficient than other technologies used for AESA radars, and allows the radar to self-cool. Weighing less than 20 kilograms/44 lbs. and housed in a single unit design, the radar has a 30% lower SWaP (size, weight and power) than the other radars in this class.
In addition to this breakthrough SiGe technology, other innovations are deployed. Multi-polarisation (a capability displayed by many cameras) will allow the radar to automatically select the optimal settings to maximise detection performance on each mission. The radar also offers a simultaneous short-range and long-range detection capability, similar to the human eye, for instantaneous surveillance. With its 2D navigation and weather modes, the AirMaster C will also provide valuable navigation support in all types of environments and weather conditions.
The AirMaster C is a smart software-defined radar designed to reduce aircrew workload. With its autonomous sensors, self-learning functionality and the ability to analyse and classify huge volumes of data, the radar can automatically adapt to different uses, terrains and environments. The AirMaster C builds on the innovative design and proven success of the Master series.
Notified by the French Armament General Directorate (DGA), preparatory studies are being carried out by Thales in collaboration with Airbus Helicopters for the integration of the AirMaster C on board the Guépard helicopter. This is the future light joint army helicopter, which will have to carry out a wide variety of missions for the three French armies.
AirMaster C, the lastest Airborne Surveillance Radar – Thales
Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomes the order by the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) for 271 Griffon armored vehicles and 42 Jaguar armored vehicles, awarded on September 15, 2020 to Nexter, Arquus and Thales as part of the SCORPION program.
The 2019-2025 Military Programming Law (LPM) provides for both an increase in the numbers of the SCORPION program and an acceleration of deliveries. The target in 2030 was thus raised to 1,872 Griffon and 300 Jaguar vehicles, half of which (respectively 936 and 150) will be delivered by 2025. In addition to schools and training centers, 5 regiments will have begun to receive the Griffon by the end of 2020, and 9 regiments at the end of 2021.
The arrival of the first Griffons allows the Army to truly enter the SCORPION era, with a platform that benefits from significant advances in terms of protection, mobility and the ability to gradually integrate the info-enhanced collaborative combat (intelligence sharing, acceleration of the decision-making loop). The objective therefore remains to be able to deploy an initial Griffon combined arms battle group on foreign operation by the end of 2021.
This order contributes to irrigate the entire French Industrial and Technological Defense Base (BITD) for ground equipment. The three prime contractors will in fact pass on the orders to their subcontractors and suppliers within a few days. It is estimated that the Griffon and Jaguar programs support nearly 2,000 direct, highly qualified jobs.
After an initial order in 2017 for 319 Griffons and 20 Jaguars, the DGA today awarded to the companies Nexter Systems, Arquus and Thales, a second phase vehicle production contract, as part of the SCORPION program, which is intended to modernize the combat capabilities of the French Army. The 271 Griffons and 42 Jaguars ordered on September 15, 2020 will be delivered to the forces between 2022 and 2023.
The Griffon is a Multi-Role Armored Vehicle (VBMR) intended to replace Front-line Armored Vehicles (VAB). Weighing around 25 tonnes, it is equipped with a 6-wheel drive and a remotely operated cupola. It comes in several versions: troop transport, command post, artillery observation and medical evacuation.
Weighing around 25 tonnes, Jaguar is an Armored Reconnaissance and Combat Vehicle (EBRC) with 6-wheel drive. It is intended to replace the AMX10RC and Sagaie wheeled light tanks, as well as the VAB variant armed with HOT anti-tank missiles. It will be equipped with the 40-mm telescoped ammunition gun produced in Franco-British cooperation, the medium range missile (MMP) and a remotely operated cupola.
In addition to Nexter Systems, Thales and Arquus, the program also involves Safran for the optronics and armament of the Jaguar, CTA International for its 40-mm gun and MBDA for its MMPs.
The SCORPION program renews the capabilities of contact combat around two armored vehicles Griffon and Jaguar and a single Information and Communication System (SICS) which allows the networking of all players in land combat. It also integrates the acquisition of light multi-role armored vehicles Serval, the modernization of the Leclerc tank and the acquisition of modern combat training systems using simulation and virtual reality.
Leonardo and Thales are proud to announce the first successful firings of the Thales ‘Martlet’ Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) from Leonardo’s AW159 Wildcat helicopter. The firings were conducted as part of the UK MoD’s Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW) programme and demonstrated the integration of the Martlet onto the AW159 platform. This represents a major milestone for the programme and will enable this high-end capability to enter service with the Royal Navy later this year.
The firing trials were conducted from 27th April to 21st May 2020 and despite the current COVID-19 situation, Leonardo and Thales were able to support the UK Ministry of Defence by completing this critical activity. All of the teams involved had to adopt strict distancing procedures, in some cases having to find new ways of working, in order to make sure that the trials could go ahead. It is a testimony to the professionalism of those involved that these trials were successfully completed under such challenging and novel circumstances.
«This major milestone demonstrates that the combination of the AW159 Wildcat and Martlet missile will be a flexible and effective tool for the Royal Navy. Next year the Wildcat fleet will embark on Carrier Strike Group missions with HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) on its maiden operational deployment. As the only British company to design and manufacture helicopters on-shore, we’re extremely proud to be equipping the UK Armed Forces with world-beating sovereign capabilities», said Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters (UK).
«The successful live firings of the Thales LMM Martlet from the AW159 Wildcat is a key milestone in the programme, delivering a significant step-change in capability for the platform. LMM Martlet will ensure that the Wildcat has the best-in-class offensive capability to protect HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) and her task group during her maiden operational deployment next year. With each platform capable of carrying up to 20 Martlet, the Wildcats deployed with the task group will be a significant deterrent to anyone wishing to interfere with UK interests», said Philip McBride, General Manager, Integrated Airspace-protection Systems, Thales UK.
In July 2014, Leonardo signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence to integrate, test and install the MBDA Sea Venom (heavy) and Thales LMM (light) missile systems onto Royal Navy AW159 Wildcat helicopters, a programme called Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW).
The FASGW (light) part of the programme has now seen the LMM, with its associated launcher and airborne laser guidance unit, successfully integrated into the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat sensor, displays and avionics systems. The LMM provides a step-change in capability for the Royal Navy which, in the maritime environment, faces a major challenge in engaging smaller, fast-moving, asymmetric threats, due to their high mobility, their small thermal and radar signatures and the severe background clutter encountered. The LMM is capable of surmounting these issues where traditional electro-optic and radar guidance systems do not provide the certainty of hit required.
On-board the AW159 Wildcat platform, the LMM Martlet could also allow operators to engage air targets such as UAVs and other maritime helicopters.
The launchers are mounted to the AW159 via the new Leonardo Weapon Wing, developed at the Company’s design and manufacturing facility in Yeovil and first trialed last year. Each weapon wing will be able to carry either ten Martlet or two Sea Venom missiles and generates additional lift for the helicopter in forward flight, reducing demands on the main rotor.
The twin-engine multi-role AW159 is able to conduct missions ranging from constabulary to high end warfighting where it has the capability to autonomously detect, identify and attack targets on land and at sea, including submarine threats. The high-performance platform has state-of-the-art systems, including a Leonardo Seaspray multi-mode electronically-scanning (E-scan) radar, and integrated electronic warfare Defensive Aids Suite (DAS).
Over 50,000 flight hours have been logged by the helicopter. The AW159 has also been chosen by the British Army, the Republic of Korea Navy and the Philippine Navy as a new maritime operator of the helicopter.
The governments of France and Germany have awarded Dassault Aviation, Airbus, together with their partners MTU Aero Engines, Safran, MBDA and Thales, the initial framework contract (Phase 1A), which launches the demonstrator phase for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
This framework contract covers a first period of 18 months and initiates work on developing the demonstrators and maturing cutting-edge technologies, with the ambition to begin flight tests as soon as 2026.
Since early 2019, the industrial partners have been working on the future architecture as part of the programme’s so called Joint Concept Study. Now, the FCAS programme enters into another decisive phase with the launch of the demonstrator phase.
This phase will, in a first step, focus on the main technological challenges per domains:
Next Generation Fighter (NGF), with Dassault Aviation as prime contractor and Airbus as main partner, to be the core element of Future Combat Air System;
Unmanned systems Remote Carrier (RC) with Airbus as prime contractor and MBDA as main partner;
Combat Cloud (CC) with Airbus as prime contractor and Thales as main partner;
Engine with Safran and MTU as main partner.
A Simulation Environment will be jointly developed between the involved companies to ensure the consistency between demonstrators.
The launch of the Demonstrator Phase underlines the political confidence and determination of the FCAS partner nations and the associated industry to move forward and cooperate in a fair and balanced manner. The increased momentum enables industry to deploy the necessary resources and best capabilities to develop this decisive European defence project. FCAS will be the cornerstone project guaranteeing Europe’s future operational, industrial and technological sovereignty.
The next important step in the FCAS programme will be the onboarding of Spain and the involvement of additional suppliers from Phase 1B onwards, which will succeed Phase 1A after its successful conclusion.
The German government has announced its intention to select Damen as the main contractor, together with partners Blohm + Voss and Thales, for supplying at least four Multi-Purpose Combat Ship MKS 180 frigates to the German Navy. The Dutch naval shipbuilder is extremely proud of, and satisfied with, the result of the evaluation process announced on 14 January 2020 by the German Government, though of course awaits parliamentary approval in Germany.
The ships will be built at Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg and at other shipyard locations of the North German Lürssen Group. Damen intends to build in this way in order to spend around 80% of the total net investment as added value in Germany. The same applies to the electronic application systems that are supplied by Thales Nederland to its own design. Around 70% of the services will be provided by the German subsidiary of Thales and by other German subcontractors.
With the North German shipyard group Lürssen – parent company of Blohm + Voss – and the Damen Shipyards Group, the partnership is based on two stable family businesses that have been successfully active in marine and commercial shipbuilding for more than 140 years.
The only naval builder in the Netherlands is pleased with this selection to be main contractor in the German project and the division of work between German and Dutch industry. For the Netherlands, it provides national knowledge and expertise. This offers the Dutch Government the option, in the coming Dutch naval construction projects for frigates and submarines, to have these types of strategic programmes devised, engineered, managed and deployed in their own country.
The MKS 180 project contributes to securing the export power and self-creation of both Dutch and German naval construction in the longer term. The project also opens perspectives for the requested European (defence equipment) cooperation.