Tag Archives: Thales

Multirole Missile

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 Royal Navy’s AW159 Wildcat will pack a lot of firepower, as it is able to carry up to 20 Thales Martlet lightweight missiles primarily intended to defend against attacking small boats, as well as two Sea Venom anti-ship missiles for offensive missions (Royal Navy photo)

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.

Demonstrator phase

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).

Demonstrator phase launched: Future Combat Air System takes major step forward

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.

Combat Ship MKS 180

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.

German Navy selects Damen and Blohm + Voss for construction Multi-Purpose Combat Ship MKS 180 frigates

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.

 

Characteristics

Length approximately 508.5 feet/155 meters at waterline
Displacement maximum 9,000 tonnes
Accommodation 110-person crew, 70 passengers
Operating endurance 24 months
Operating area worldwide
Ice class 1C/E1 for sea areas with ice formation
Service life 30 years

 

Intelligence program

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.

The Falcon 8X Archange to serve the French Air Force

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.

Guided Weapon

Thales recently conducted firing trials at Royal Artillery Air Defence Range at Manorbier as part of the Integration testing phase of the Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (Light) (FASGW(L)) programme.

Procured under the Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (Light), the Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) developed by Thales will arm the Royal Navy’s AW-159 Wildcat helicopter with up to four five-round launchers, giving it considerable anti-ship firepower

The FASGW(L) programme includes testing of all parts of the weapon system including the Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM), the launcher system and all key equipment of the Wildcat helicopter.

The LMM, which the Royal Navy will call Martlet when it enters service in 2020, will provide an enhanced level of protection for both service personnel in the Royal Navy and vital assets at sea, such as the Queen Elisabeth Carrier.

The trials consisted of six LMMs being fired from the Thales-designed launcher system at a small boat target at sea at a distance of 4.5kms. All missiles were test rounds with no warhead, but were fitted with telemetry software enabling data to be gathered to analyse the launcher, the guidance system and missile performance.

The FASGW(L) system accurately guided all missiles to the targets and provided extensive data on the excellent performance of all elements of the ground set-up and inflight performance of the missile.

The successful achievement of the ground firings is a major milestone and key to progressing to future testing including air firing trials later in 2019 and culminating in qualification and verification in 2020.

When it enters service in 2020 LMM will give the Wildcat increased protection capability able to address highly mobile maritime threats such as weaponised speed boats and jet skis.

Thales would like to thank the MOD, The Royal Navy, Leonardo and all Thales personnel in achieving this important milestone.

Thales video of the LMM ground firing trials in March from the same launcher and with the same sensor ball that will be used to fire it from Royal Navy Wildcat helicopters

Laser guided rockets

The successful capability enhancement for the H145M continues. In the first weeks of December 2017, Airbus Helicopters demonstrated the ability to fire laser guided rockets (FZ275 LGR from Thales) with its new H145M platform at the Älvdalen test range of the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration Flight test Centre. In a rough and challenging environment the system performed flawlessly.

H145M successfully launched 70mm Laser Guided Rockets during its firing campaign in Sweden
H145M successfully launched 70mm Laser Guided Rockets during its firing campaign in Sweden

The electro-optical system (MX-15D) from L3 Wescam with embedded laser designation enabled a deviation of less than a meter for all rockets fired at a distance of up to 4.5 km/2.8 miles. This 70-mm/2.75-inch laser guided air-ground rocket enhances the H145M’s engagement capabilities. It fulfils the precision strike needs of the armed forces worldwide by reducing the risk of collateral damage, particularly during asymmetric combat operations.

«The laser guided rockets from Thales performed incredibly well especially taking into consideration the weather conditions we experienced during the trials which were far from ideal with a lot of moisture in the air», said Raymond Laporte, test pilot at Airbus Helicopters.

Following the success of the ballistic firing tests, held in Hungary in October 2017, the achievement of this new milestone with laser guided rockets is in continuity of Airbus Helicopters’ HForce development strategy to boost the H145M mission capability.

Final qualification of the ballistic HForce system on the H145M is scheduled for end of this year, while the laser-guided rockets is planned for end 2019.

 

Characteristics

DIMENSIONS
Length (rotor rotating) 44.72 feet/13.63 m
Fuselage length 38.35 feet/11.69 m
Height 13.12 feet/4 m
Main rotor diameter 36.09 feet/11 m
Width (blades folded) 8.89 feet/2.71 m
CAPABILITIES
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 8,157 lbs/3,700 kg
Useful Load 3,900 lbs/1,769 kg
Sling load 3,307 lbs/1,500 kg
Maximum seating 1/2 pilots + 10/9 troops
ENGINE
2 × Turbomeca ARRIEL 2E turboshaft engines
Maximum Continuous Power (MCP) 2×771 shp/2×575 kW
Take-Off Power (TOP) 2×894 shp/2×667 kW
2 min One Engine Inoperative (OEI) 1×1,038 shp/1×775 kW
30 sec OEI-power 1×1,072 shp/1×800 kW
PERFORMANCE AT MTOW
Speed (Vne – never exceed speed) 135 knots/155 mph/250 km/h
Fast Cruise speed (Vh – maximum speed) 132 knots/152 mph/244 km/h
Maximum range 357 NM/411 miles/662 km
Hover ceiling OGE (TOP), ISA 8,858 feet/2,700 m

 

Griffon and Jaguar

According to Defense-aerospace.com, in line with the development of the Jaguar and Griffon vehicles ordered in December 2014, the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) on April 21 awarded Nexter Systems, Renault Trucks Defense and Thales a contract for the first 319 Griffon and the first 20 Jaguar armored vehicles, as part of the Scorpion program for the renewal of the combat capabilities of the Army. This order also includes logistics and training support systems.

A prototype of the Jaguar 6×6 wheeled armored vehicle, armed with a 40-mm gun and anti-tank missiles, which will replace the French army’s wheeled light tanks (FR army photo)
A prototype of the Jaguar 6×6 wheeled armored vehicle, armed with a 40-mm gun and anti-tank missiles, which will replace the French army’s wheeled light tanks (FR army photo)

In accordance with Jean-Yves Le Drian’s decision to modernize the armored component of the ground forces, the Military Programme Law provides for the delivery of the first Griffon in 2018 and of the first Jaguar in 2020. During the development phase, the workload of the Griffon-Jaguar projects supports nearly a thousand highly-skilled direct jobs. This will increase to more than 1,700 direct jobs during full production, starting in 2020.

Scorpion will renew the army’s first-line combat capabilities around two new armored vehicles, Griffon and Jaguar, and a unique information and communication system, SICS, which will allow the networking of all players in land combat. Scorpion also integrates the acquisition of light armored multi-role vehicles, the upgrade of the Leclerc tank and modern combat training systems using simulation and virtual reality.

Griffon is a multi-role armored vehicle (véhicule blindé multi-rôles, or VBMR) designed to replace the Véhicules de l’Avant Blindé (VAB). It is a 6×6 armored vehicle weighing approximately 25 tonnes and equipped with a remotely-controlled weapons station. It will be available in several versions (troop transport, command post, artillery spotter and medical evacuation).

Jaguar is a 6×6 armored reconnaissance and combat vehicle (engin blindé de reconnaissance et de combat, or EBRC) weighing about 25 tonnes intended to replace the AMX10RC and Sagaie wheeled light tanks as well as the VAB variant armed with HOT missiles (designated Mephisto). It will be equipped with the 40-mm automatic cannon with cased telescopic ammunition jointly developed by France and the UK, the MMP medium-range missile and a remotely-controlled weapon station.

In addition to Nexter Systems, Thales and Renault Trucks Defense, the program also involves Safran for optronics and, for the Jaguar’s weapons fit, CTA International for the 40-mm gun and MBDA for the MMP medium range missile.

The second of the French army’s new armored vehicles, the Griffon, is a 6×6 armored personnel carrier intended to replace the VABs now in service (FR army image)
The second of the French army’s new armored vehicles, the Griffon, is a 6×6 armored personnel carrier intended to replace the VABs now in service (FR army image)

French Spy’Ranger

Thales’s latest-generation Spy’Ranger mini surveillance and reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has been chosen by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to equip the French forces. Up to 70 mini-UAV reconnaissance systems (SMDR) will be made available from 2018. Each system consists of three mini-UAVs, a ground segment and the associated technical support.

Spy’Ranger is a latest-generation mini-UAS with the only EO/IR imaging system in the world capable of transmitting high-definition electro-optical and infrared imagery in real time
Spy’Ranger is a latest-generation mini-UAS with the only EO/IR imaging system in the world capable of transmitting high-definition electro-optical and infrared imagery in real time

Key Points:

  • Starting in 2018, Thales will provide French forces up to 210 mini reconnaissance UAVs;
  • The Spy’Ranger is the new «eye in the sky» for the combined arms tactical group, able to be operated in a standalone mode or connected to a Command, Control, Computers, Communications and Intelligence (C4I) system;
  • The Spy’Ranger is specifically tailored to the needs of the armed forces, as well as to those of essential operators.

The Armed forces require real-time access to ever more reliable imagery. Spy’Ranger will provide them with a decisive tactical advantage by offering the capacity to observe day or night, for long periods of time and at a distance of up to 30 km. Spy’Ranger is used in particular to carry out the following missions: provide support to a combined arms tactical group maneuver or to an offensive reconnaissance mission; provide a cover mechanism, support the neutralization of strong points and contribute to firing maneuvers by providing a «remote airborne eye» able to adjust shooting rounds on a target.

Developed by Thales in cooperation with French SMEs Aviation Design and Merio in under 13 months, Spy’Ranger will offer French Forces a number of innovations that provide real capability gains. Spy’Ranger will therefore markedly contribute to the gathering of frontline intelligence and to the protection of forces in operation.

Designed to operate in extreme, non-permissive environments, this new-generation system gathers and transmits accurate, operational beyond-line-of-sight image intelligence for joint battlegroup and brigade-level units
Designed to operate in extreme, non-permissive environments, this new-generation system gathers and transmits accurate, operational beyond-line-of-sight image intelligence for joint battlegroup and brigade-level units

The Spy’Ranger, developed by Thales in collaboration with several French SMEs, is a mini-UAV designed and manufactured in France. Spy’Ranger packs state-of-the-art technologies that provide much better performance:

  • Transportable in a backpack, Spy’Ranger can perform observation missions over a period of 2 hours 30 minutes, covering a range of 18.64 miles/30 km: a much larger surveillance area than those covered by systems currently in service;
  • Its gyrostabilized multi-sensor optronic payload has the highest resolution in the world for this range of platform, facilitating the positive identification of zones or objects over which it has flown;
  • Its tactical data link, protected to the highest standard, offers high speeds allowing the transmission of a high-definition image streams;
  • Its command and control software (C2) provides an effective user interface;
  • A mobile and digital support management system, based on Thales’s Smartfleet solution, that enables efficient execution and piloting of the Through Life Support’s.

Fully adapted to frontline air-land intelligence missions in battlefields in hostile environments (climate, electromagnetic, physical, etc.), the Spy’Ranger has been designed to optimize life cycle costs.

Thales Spy’Ranger: Mini-UAV system for reconnaissance roles

Aster New Technology

The French Ministry of Defence has launched the Aster Block 1 NT (New Technology) programme aimed at modernising the Surface-to-Air Missile Platform/Terrain (SAMP/T) ground based air defence system as well as its associated Aster missile. The contract was notified by the French DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) to the EUROSAM consortium involving MBDA and Thales on 23rd December 2015.

Aster 30 SAMP/T firing at PISQ (Italian test center)
Aster 30 SAMP/T firing at PISQ (Italian test center)

This contract provides for the development of a new version of the Aster 30 Block 1 missile, referred to as Aster B1 NT with first deliveries to the French Air Force being expected in 2023. It also covers the modernization of the current SAMP/T system to provide enhanced capabilities particularly against ballistic missiles. These evolutions will enable SAMP/T to further enhance its contribution towards NATO’s anti-ballistic missile defence programme.

In the next few months, France should be joined also by Italy whose ground based air defence units are similarly equipped with the SAMP/T system.

For quite some time, the UK, Italy and France have shared a successful cooperation covering ground and naval air defence systems based on the Aster missile. This cooperation was reaffirmed by the signing of an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) by the three nations on 11th December 2015.

France’s Aster programme is led by the DGA with the support of OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement), the European intergovernmental organisation for joint armament cooperation.