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The French defence procurement agency, the DGA, has awarded a contract to Dassault Aviation, Safran and Thales, as members of the RAFALE joint venture, to develop the future onboard sensors and communication systems that will equip the F4standard of the aircraft.

MONCh reported earlier this month on the launch of the F4 standard (see https://www.monch.com/mpg/news/air/4735-rafale-f4.html). The aircraft is already a key component of French national security policy and the 96 aircraft on order for Egypt, India and Qatar will become as important for those nations’ policies. The F4 standard is a pre-emptive attempt to prepare crews to better confront a broader range of threats in increasingly complex environments.

Collaborative combat is now crucial for participation in coalition operations, countering new threats and conducting sovereignty operations. Specifically, Thales will prepare for the introduction into the aircraft of the CONTACT radio; secure, intelligent communications server technology; and a SYRACUSE IV satellite communications capability. To ensure high survivability, new threat detection and jamming capabilities will be developed for the aircraft's SPECTRA electronic warfare system. Further improvements to the air-to-ground mode of the RBE2 active electronic scanning array (AESA) radar are also planned. In addition, the TALIOS optronic pod will incorporate artificial intelligence to analyse tactical data almost instantaneously in flight and extract and identify targets.
These enhancements will enable aircrews to assess tactical situations more effectively, handle significantly larger volumes of information in real time, and make the best choices in every decisive moment in order to safely and securely locate, identify, classify and engage threats, and to assess and analyse the results of the action taken.

To meet the needs of users, armed forces also need a high level of equipment availability. The development of predictive maintenance based on technologies such as Big Data and artificial intelligence is a key component of Thales's strategy. The purpose of predictive maintenance is to anticipate failures before they occur: Thales's new developments for the RAFALE F4 standard aim to make this objective a reality.

This contract is a further endorsement by the French Ministry for the Armed Forces of the industrial know-how and advanced technology expertise of French defence contractors. The RAFALE F4 standard's sensors and communication systems will be a key driver of the shift towards collaborative combat, and Thales's capabilities in connectivity and artificial intelligence will enable RAFALE air crews to make the best choices in every decisive moment,” commented Thales Chairman and CEO, Patrice Caine.

The RAFALE F4 standard will demand new advanced sensor capability, data fusion and connectivity. (Photo: Dassault Aviation/K Tokunaga)

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