PARIS — France is to acquire its first joint tactical signals intelligence system from Thales and Airbus, the DGA procurement agency announced Feb. 8.
The €160 million (U.S. $193 million) contract was signed with the two companies Dec. 31, 2020, according to a DGA statement. Early capabilities of the new system will be delivered in 2023 and full capabilities by 2025.
The system will consist of a series of combinable sensors adapted to the needs of a given theater of operation and whatever environment — land, naval or air — in which it is to be operated.
Signals intelligence involves using an adversary’s signals — either communication (such as radio) or electronic (such as radar) — to gather data. “This information is necessary to safeguard the forces engaged, to determine the enemy’s intention and to be able to independently assess the situation. It contributes to the freedom of action of forces in a theater of operations,” the DGA said in a statement.
The French armed forces’ current tactical sigint capabilities were developed to meet the specific needs of each service. The purpose of the joint system is to provide the three services with a homogeneous system, using as many common bricks as possible to guarantee operational continuity and joint use of the information collected.
The new system will modernize and complete the current tactical sigint capabilities, taking into consideration new communications technologies used by adversaries — whether these are detecting emissions, characterizing and localizing transmitters, or intercepting communications on different frequency ranges — according to the procurement agency.
In the Army, the new capability will be used by the 54th Signal Regiment on Scorpion vehicles. It will also equip the Navy’s capital ships and the Atlantic 2 maritime patrol aircraft, replacing and complementing the current systems. Members of the Air and Space Force will use the system as deployable ground equipment to protect air bases.
Christina Mackenzie was the France correspondent for Defense News.