The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) has contracted Thales and Dassault Aviation for work on the French Armed Forces’ “Archange” future strategic intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft program.
The contract was awarded on December 30, 2019, and will see the duo integrate the first two aircraft on the program with the CUGE (Capacité universelle de guerre électronique) universal electronic warfare capability.
CUGE will ultimately be deployed by three Falcon X aircraft, built by Dassault Aviation, to replace the two Transall C-160 Gabriel aircraft in service with the French Air Force from 2025.
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 (12,000 km). It has digital flight controls and is equipped with an EASY digital flight deck and the FalconEye combined vision system (CVS).
Thales said it developed the new generation of SIGINT technologies in partnership with Dassault Aviation, the DGA and the armed forces, under several advanced study programs. The company will produce all the sensors for the SIGINT payload and integrate the overall system on board Dassault Aviation’s Falcon 8X aircraft.
These new technologies will enable the system to detect and analyse radio and radar signals simultaneously for the first time, in particular thanks to multi-polarization antennas and the use of artificial intelligence technologies to automate data processing.
The information collected by the systems will then be analysed by monitoring and intelligence specialists and fed into armed forces databases. The program also includes a ground-based training platform.