Thales Awarded Contracts for Rafale-related Support and Development Services

Released on Thursday, July 22, 2004
AESA - Active Electronically Scanned Array
IFF - Identification Friend or Foe
MDPU - Modular Data Processing Unit
The SIMMAD, the French Ministry of Defense's aeronautical equipment and support agency, awarded Thales group a €200 million ($251 million) contract to provide logistics support for Rafale multi-role fighter.

The logistics contract will provide support for the Thales equipment installed on the first 120 Rafales of the French armed forces over a seven-year period or 100,000 flight hours. The equipment includes RBE2 radar system, Spectra electronic warfare system, electro-optic sensors, IFF, cockpit displays, communications, MDPU mission computers, data-storage units and interface units.

Under this contract, Thales will also conduct repairs, replacement parts deliveries, provide technical support and guarantee spare parts availability for the French armed forces. In May this year, SIMMAD awarded Thales a logistics support contract covering other fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft than the Rafale.

On 19 July 2004, DGA, French Armament Procurement Agency, awarded Thales a €85 million ($107 million) contract for development of an active antenna combat radar demonstrator. The new technology of the radar system is also known as electronically scanned array with active modules. The new antenna design will increase the radar range making possible the launch of next generation long-range air-to-air missiles such as Meteor from the 2012 horizon.

In April 2002, the DGA awarded Thales a contract to develop the first active antenna electronically scanned array (AESA) based on the RBE2 radar. The RBE2 AESA took to the air for the first time in December 2002 installed on a Mystere 20 testbed aircraft. In April 2003, the AESA radar flew on the Rafale fighter aircraft.

An antenna is said to be active if a single subassembly performs all functions related to wave transmission as well as amplification of emitted power and pre-amplification of returned signal. The active antenna itself consists of a front-end of transmit/receive modules array.

The new radar technology to be developed under this program would be installed on the Rafale beginning in 2012. It has not been disclosed whether the new technology is meant for a new radar system or it would be used to upgrade current Rafale's electronically scanned radar system, the RBE2. The last option seems to be more likely.


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