(15 Feb 2021)
DGA, the French defence procurement agency, has
awarded Thales and Airbus a contract for a new joint tactical
signals intelligence (SIGINT) system to upgrade the French forces’
critical signals monitoring, direction finding and spectrum
analysis capabilities.

The 10-year contract will equip the three armed
forces with a common information system and set of sensors and is
designated a high-impact programme (PEM), alongside CONTACT and
SCORPION, under France’s defence spending plan.

The tactical SIGINT programme will upgrade the
electronic warfare capabilities of front-line units, providing a
set of high-performance portable or vehicle-mounted assets
compatible with the latest communications technologies.

French tactical joint intelligence system of electromagnetic origin (ROEM). Click to enlarge.

The new
system to monitor and localise enemy communications will support
tactical manoeuvres in the theatre of operations. It will equip the electronic support
vehicles of the French Army’s 54th Signals Regiment (SCORPION
programme), 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.

The system will be the only one of its kind in
service with the French forces. All three armed forces will rely
on the same logistics infrastructure to simplify training of
specialist operators and optimise through-life support delivery.

Thales will draw on the SIGINT expertise developed
by the group on several legacy programmes: COHORTE (the current
French Army tactical SIGINT system), MINREM (French Navy SIGINT
system), ARCHANGE (French Air Force new-generation SIGINT
aircraft) and CLOVIS (strategic interministerial communications
localisation project). Thales will also build on its capabilities
in end-to-end communications, radio communications and
communications security.

“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. We are proud to be taking part in
this programme to upgrade France’s intelligence capabilities in
support of front-line forces across all environments and to be
helping to keep them safe and effective on their crucial missions”
said Marc Darmon, Executive Vice President, Secure Communications
and Information Systems, Thales.

Airbus will provide its expertise in strategic
ELINT systems, drawing on its experience on programmes such as
RAMSES (strategic radio and satellite communications information
system) and PARADOS (radio signal acquisition sensor). These
systems are currently in operational service with France’s defence
intelligence agency (DRM), the French Army, the French Air and
Space Force, and the French Navy. Airbus will also draw on its
complex-systems integration and security know-how.

The first phase of the programme will provide the
three armed forces 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 to
provide the French armed forces with a set of state-of-the-art
electronic warfare systems and capabilities.

“Our armed forces face an increasing number of
threats and need to rely on ever expanding volumes of data,”
said
François Lombard, Director of Intelligence Business at Airbus
Defence and Space. “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 characterise them with significantly greater precision.”

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