Thales selected for French CONTACT programme
The French defence procurement agency (DGA) has officially notified Thales that it has been awarded the development contract for the CONTACT strategic programme for the French armed forces. Thales announced the news 21 June 2012.
The CONTACT programme is designed to equip the majority of the French forces’ platforms with next-generation tactical radios incorporating innovative software-defined radio technology. The contract will see Thales ‘design and build a complete theatre communications system comprising future air and naval tactical radios and associated waveforms, which will give French forces the joint communications capabilities they need to accomplish their missions effectively.’
According to the company, with network-centric operations hinging on the ability to move ever-increasing volumes of information between all the players in the battlespace, communication systems have a key role to play in the critical decision chain, especially in complex environments and multinational coalition operations.
To accommodate this growing complexity, six European nations—Finland, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden—launched the ESSOR project (European Secure Software defined Radio) in 2009. ESSOR aims to establish a baseline standard for development and production of military software-defined radios in Europe. An ESSOR reference architecture has been defined and shared between the European partners, compatible with the US SCA standard, and a coalition high-data-rate (HDR) waveform has been developed to provide the basis for a new standard.
Thales said, the CONTACT programme will therefore draw on a foundation of communication architecture standards and on the European waveform developed by the ESSOR partners to guarantee interoperability. Software radios and waveforms developed within this framework will meet new requirements with high operational value as armed forces transition to the digitised battlespace and increase their reliance on C4I, video transmissions and other value added services during multinational operations.
Future CONTACT radio products will be fielded with the French Army, air force and navy, providing faster transmission speeds, better security and heightened interoperability. They will be interoperable with the communication systems of other nations to support coalition operations. These products will be interoperable with the PR4G waveform, thus assuring upward interoperability with PR4G radio equipment currently in service, the company said.
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