France: The View From The Mountain

Franco-American radar specialists ThalesRaytheonSystems (TRS) have provided some additional news regarding its contract to supply the Armée de l’Air (AdlA/French Air Force) with a new GM-406 ground-based air surveillance radar.

It was announced in late October that the company would supply a single radar to equip the AdlA air surveillance facility located at Nice-Mont Agel airbase in southeast France. This facility provides air surveillance of the southern approaches to the country. Presently, it is occupied by two legacy systems, namely two Thompson L-band PALMIER radars (one three-dimensional and one two-dimensional) which will be replaced by the new GM-406 radar.

The GM-406, alongside the GM-403, is part of TRS’s circa 470 kilometre (253 nautical mile) range S-band GM-400 air surveillance radar family manufactured by Thales in France. The principle difference between the two types according to Philippe Duhamel, Chief Executive Officer of TRS-SAS, the French segment of TRS, is that the GM-406 is primarily designed to equip fixed sites, with the GM-403 designed to be deployable. The GM-406 also has a transmitter which is twice as powerful as the GM-403, giving it a 20 percent greater range.

TRS plans to complete the installation of the GM-406 radar at the site in Nice by 2015. It will become operational during the same year. This new radar will represent the third GM-400 system that the company has delivered to the AdlA. It has already delivered a GM-406 to French Guiana, where the system will provide air surveillance to protect the Guiana Space Centre. In addition, Mr. Duhamel says that the company plans to deliver a GM-403 radar to the AdlA by 2014.

Once deployed, the GM-406 in Nice will be linked to the overall AdlA SCCOA (Système de Commandement et de Conduite des Opérations Aériennes/Air Operations Command and Control System) which is being rolled out across the French air force.

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