Defense technology majors Thales and Airbus will be working together on upgrading the French Armed Forces’ critical signals monitoring, direction finding and spectrum analysis capabilities.
The two companies were awarded a contract from French defense procurement agency (DGA) for the delivery of a new joint tactical signals intelligence (SIGINT) system that will provide an expanded tactical electronic support measures (ESM) capability.
The 10-year contract will equip the three armed forces branches with a common information system and set of sensors and is designated a high-impact program (PEM1), alongside CONTACT and Scorpion, under France’s defense spending plan.
This new system will consist of a range of sensors that will be able to be combined in the form of modules, adapted to the needs of theaters of operations and the required projection environment, whether land, naval or air.
Referred to as renseignement d’origine électromagnétique (ROEM) in French, the system will equip the electronic support vehicles of the French Army’s 54th Signals Regiment (Scorpion program), the French Navy’s front-line warships and the Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft, and could be deployed to protect air bases on military operations overseas. All three services will rely on the same logistics infrastructure to simplify training of specialist operators and optimize through-life support delivery.
The first 160 million euro contract under the program was awarded in 2020, while delivery of the first systems is scheduled for 2023. End of development, and a full operational capability are expected sometime in 2025.
The first phase of the program will provide the three armed forces branches with an initial operational capability for signals monitoring, with subsequent optional tranches to significantly increase the number of units in service. New functions (new data analytics functions for the information system, expanded detection and technical analysis capabilities, etc.) will be added incrementally over the term of the contract.
“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,” Marc Darmon, executive vice president, secure communications and information systems, Thales, said.
“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,” François Lombard, director of the intelligence business, Airbus Defence and Space, added.