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Airbus A400M performs first helicopter air to air dry contacts
By George Allison
October 2, 2019

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The Airbus A400M has successfully achieved its first helicopter air-to-air refueling contacts with an H225M.

Over the course of 4 flights, operated in day conditions over the south of France, the A400M performed 51 dry contacts marking a decisive milestone towards its full capability as a tanker. These tests were performed under the coordination of the French DGA Essais en vol flight test centre, say the firm.

“The tests, involving no fuel and performed between 1,000 ft and 10,000 ft at flight speeds as low as 105 knots, confirmed the positive results of previous proximity flights conducted at the beginning of 2019.

The next step in the flight test program will involve wet contact operations scheduled to take place before the end of 2019 ahead of final certification in 2021.”


The flight test campaign also included the first proximity trials between the A400M and an H160 helicopter requested by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) in the frame of the feasibility study for the Guépard (future military multirole helicopter for the French armed forces). Tests were performed successfully.
 

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France Sets up Heavy Bombs Factory, to End US Imports
October 11, 2019

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Mk-84

France expects to end dependency upon the United States for fighter jet- launched heavy bombs following the setting up of a factory to manufacture various types of bombs.

The plant of a local bomb-making firm, Paris Rafaut, near Valenciennes was inaugurated earlier this week by defence minister Florence Parly. "Until Now, the heavy bomb bodies have always been imported from the United States," the minister said during the event.

“Rafaut has invested more than 20 million Euros devoted to the construction and development of this new production site. It is in this factory that Rafaut will manufacture among others quality aviation bombs" the minister was quoted as saying by LaTribune.

France has used a lot of ammunition in recent years in the Levant (Syria) to participate in the military defeat of Daesh, the minister said, adding that the new factory would manufacture bombs of various weight categories- from 250 kilograms to nearly a ton, some of which must meet the constraints of French platforms such as the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and Rafale fighter jets.
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USAF F-16 dropping a pair of 2000lb GBU-31 JDAMs

The French Directorate-General for Armaments had notified in December 2017 a contract for the development and industrialization of MK 83 (500 kg) and MK 84 (1 tonne) heavy bomb bodies which France imports from the US.

Mk 83 and Mk 84 are part of the Mark 80 series of general-purpose bombs. They are used as a warhead for a variety of precision-guided weapons including the GBU-16 Paveway laser-guided bombs, the GBU-32 JDAM and Quickstrike sea mines.

In the recent years, France has contracted the US for Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) Unitary Rocket Pods worth $90 million (2016), Hellfire missiles for $60 million (2015 and 2016), and Javelin anti-tank guided missiles for $69 million
 

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Lynx 6: Victory of Leclerc tank at NATO combined exercise Iron Spear
16 October 2019
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From 7 to 13 October, at the Adazi camp in Latvia, the French tank crewmen of the Lynx 6 Tactical Inter-Service Sub-Group (Sous-Groupement Tactique Interarmes, S-GTIA) participated in an inter-alliance exercise gathering the battle tanks of eight nations taking part to the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP).

This demonstration of the full operational capability of the soldiers and their armament was organized by the Canadian force, the umbrella organization for eFP in Latvia.

The purpose of the Iron Spear exercise was to make tank crews of eight nations maneuver, involving 28 crews from Spain, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Norway and the United States. The tank crewmen were able to train alongside their allies during targeting and shooting exercises, including one at night.

At the end of the exercise, the tanks of the eight nations were compared in a shooting competition, mixing speed and precision. Despite the high technical level of the competitors (the speed of shooting of the Norwegians or the accuracy of the Germans), it is a French crew who won the challenge after several hours of a contested competition. Their Leclerc surpassed, during this challenge, the American M1A2 Abrams, German, Spanish and Norwegian Leopard 2s, Italian Ariete C1 and Polish P91.

Decided by the Heads of State and Government at the Warsaw Summit in 2016, enhanced Forward Presence (or eFP) allows Allies to deploy a limited number of military forces in the Baltic States and in Poland. This non-permanent commitment aims to further strengthen the Alliance's defense posture by a deterrent, purely defensive system, according to a collectively validated plan. In this context, France engages in Estonia in 2019 a deployment articulated around 300 French soldiers and a S-GTIA composed of 4 Leclerc tanks and 13 VBCIs. This Lynx mission is integrated into a battalion commanded by Britain.

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More pics from Lynx6

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French Navy commissions third La Confiance-class OPV
Henri-Pierre Grolleau, Paris
24 October 2019

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The French Navy has commissioned its third La Confiance-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) into service, French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly announced on 18 October.

La Combattante , which was ordered in December 2017 in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma to reinforce the French Armed Forces capabilities in the West Indies, was commissioned on 2 October.

The OPV arrived in Martinique in August, with acceptance testing conducted during its Atlantic crossing in tropical water conditions.

The three La Confiance vessels have been designed by naval architecture company Mauric for operations in shallow waters.

Design features include a passive roll stabilisation system composed of a 14,800-litre water tank located in the ship’s upper structure.
 

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First two upgraded ATL2s delivered to the French Navy
Emmanuel Huberdeau, London -
24 October 2019

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The French Navy has been authorised to receive the first two of 18 ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft to be upgraded to Standard 6 configuration. (Dassault)

The French procurement agency Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA) has authorised the transfer of the first two upgraded Dassault Atlantique 2 (ATL2) maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to the French Navy, the French ministry for armed forces announced on 24 October.

Eighteen out of the 22 ATL2 MPAs operated by the French Navy will be upgraded to the new version called 'Standard 6'. The upgrade is comprehensive and should allow the aircraft to operate until 2030.

The upgrade programme includes the development of a new combat system called 'Logiciel de traitement de l'information operationelle nouvelle génération' (LOTI-NG). The system is used to establish a tactical picture based on data gathered by the aircrafts' various sensors.
 

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Naval Group launches first digital frigate for French Navy
24 October 2019 21:05

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The new FDI digital frigate of Naval Group (Picture source: Naval Group)

The cutting of the first sheet of the defense and intervention frigate (FDI) took place on the Naval Group site in Lorient. The ceremony was attended by the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, the General Delegate for Armament, Joel Barre, the Chief of Staff of the Navy, Admiral Prazuck, his Greek counterpart, Vice Admiral Nikolaos Tsounis, numerous foreign delegations, and Naval Group Chairman and CEO Hervé Guillou.

FDI (Frégate de defense et d’intervention/ Defence and intervention frigate, the first digital native frigate, will benefit from an unparalleled level of digitalization thanks to a new IT architecture including two data centers, allowing for a very large capacity for data storage and analysis. She will also offer a new generation of equipment in terms of combat system, with increased capabilities such as Thales Sea Fire, the new generation four-panel fixed radar, MBDA's Aster missiles for air defense, a complete sonar suite with hull sonar and towed sonar from Thales for anti-submarine warfare.

The FDI frigate has a displacement of 4500 tons, a length of 121 meters and a width of 17.7 meters. Its maximum speed is 27 knots and it has an autonomy of 45 days with operational availability of 3500 hours per year. The frigate can accommodate 125 men and women + 28 passengers and will be able to carry at the same time a helicopter (capacity of 10 t, the actual helicopter will weigh 5t) and an Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), developed as part of the SDAM program with Airbus Helicopters.

New generation warships are embedding more and more computer and software-based components, not only in the Combat Systems but also in Platform Systems and equipment (Navigation System, Ship Management System). This may constitute vulnerability towards cyber-attacks, all the more so as the development of networks and computerized communication devices have provided new possibilities of intrusions from the outside.

A new bridge will allow the crew to detect any object in the close vicinity around the ship and to safely drive the ship in all situations, whether they are common (navigational, maneuvering) or threatening (asymmetric threats), by night and day. This reinforced combat system against asymmetric threats is placed in a room dedicated to threat assessment, enabling a 360° watch of the environment close to the ship and centralization of necessary actions.

FDI digital systems are natively protected. Indeed, cybersecurity on FDI is "By Design". They provide protection and defense adapted to any cyber threat the ship may be exposed to. The Cybersecurity Management System (CyMS) supervisory console has particularly intuitive man-machine interfaces. This user-friendly system offers to the operator a centralized real-time view of information on the cyber state of the platform, by gathering information from the equipment and analyzing it in detail with regard to the ship's operating modes, enabling the detection of an attack on the vessel. The software provides feedback to the operator in case of an incident. Once the corrective decision has been taken by the operator, the system makes it possible to automate and monitor the commanded actions.

The design and production of the FDI are an extension of the FREMM program and benefits from operational feedback from the French Navy, one of the most active navies on all theatres of operations around the world. FREMM and FDI have are protected against all conventional surface and underwater threats. They can join an international force, deploy a command center in theatres of operation, and project Special Forces. Finally, these two families of frigates operate the Setis combat management system.

Belharra is the first combat ship to meet the challenges of digital technologies. A combat vessel is equipped with various systems that make extensive use of digital technologies, such as CMS, IPMS, IBNS, PMS or Communication system.

This first ship of a series of five will be delivered in 2023.
 

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Lockheed nabs $14.4M contract to support France's C-130-J aircraft
OCT. 25, 2019
By Ed Adamczyk
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Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin won a $12.4 million contract for support of France's C-130-J and KC-130-J aircraft, the Defense Department said.
The plane, known in various iterations as the Super Hercules, is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft suitable for delivering troops and cargo, as well as mid-air refueling.

Seventeen nations have the plane and its variants in their fleets. France has four, its first brought into service in 2018 for use in airlift and refueling activities in the sub-Saharan Sahel region. France also has several aging C-130-H variants.

The contract, announced by the Pentagon on Thursday, calls for long term sustainment of the aircraft, including program management support, spares parts, supply support services, support equipment, engineering services, technical order updates, aircraft modifications and data and configuration management programs.

Work will be performed at Lockheed Martin's facility in Marietta, Ga., and at air bases in France, with an expected completion date of Jan. 1, 2023.
 

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General Atomics Receives Contract for Weaponization of French Air Force MQ‐9 Block 5 UAS
October 26, 2019
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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) has been awarded a contract action for the weaponization, and integration of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Pod in support of the French Air Force MQ‐9 Block 5 unmanned aircraft.

The undefinitized contract action, with a not-to-exceed value of around $18 million, involves 100% foreign military sales to France and was awarded by the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) located at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Work will be performed in Poway, California, and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2021.

General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (also called Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.

The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft (RPV/RPA) by the USAF to indicate their human ground controllers.

The MQ-9 are capable of being armed with a variety of weapons including the GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb (LGB), the AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles (AGM), the AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile (AAM), and the GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). Tests are underway to allow for the addition of the AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missile.
 

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French Navy Receives Third Upgraded ATL2 MPA Aircraft
29 April 2020

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Dassault Aviation delivered the third ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft (PATMAR) modernized to Standard 6 to the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) in mid-April.

The contract for the upgraded (standard 6) ATL2 combat system was awarded by the DGA on October 4, 2013. The program covers a fleet of 18 aircraft.

The company is due to deliver seven renovated ATL2s over 2019-2023. In parallel, the SIAé aeronautical maintenance center will upgrade 11 aircraft.
The Standard 6 upgrades include a new Thales Search Master radar with active antenna, new Thales acoustic subsystem to gather and process signals from the latest-generation air-dropped sonobuoys for submarine detection, a new WESCAM optronic ball, new Dassault navigation console and new consoles for the tactical display subsystem developed by SIAé.

The upgrade work is performed by Dassault Aviation and Thales (co-contractors), in association with Naval Group and in cooperation with SIAé. Architect of the combat system, Dassault Aviation is as well responsible for development of the core system including the operational software designed by Naval Group. Dassault Aviation is also in charge of overall integration of all subsystems.

The standard 6 upgrade will improve the ATL2s’ capability to support the Strategic Ocean Force and the Naval Air Group of the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, to deal with modern threats (future nuclear or conventional submarines, naval forces, etc.) and to support air-land missions, until 2030.

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Launching a GBU- 12 Paveway II Laser Guided Bomb


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Launching a MU90 torpedo
 

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French Navy’s Submarine Suffren, First of the new Barracuda-Class, Begins Sea Trials
29 April 2020

Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomes the first dive for the Suffren at sea, carried out on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, after her departure from the naval base of Cherbourg. The Suffren is the first of six Barracuda nuclear attack submarines. Led by the French Armaments Directorate (DGA), these sea trials, which will last several months, will confirm the robustness and efficiency of the submarine before its delivery to the French Navy.

With this first outing at sea, the Barracuda program passes a major milestone after the launch of Suffren, on July 12, 2019, by the President of the Republic.

Over the past eight months, the program's industrial and state teams have successfully carried out all of the Suffren dock tests which aimed to verify the proper functioning of its various systems and equipment. Three prerequisites are validated: the combat system has reached the end of its tests on land and is ready for the continuation of assessments at sea; the nuclear reactor was started at the end of 2019 after loading its fuel; Finally, in January 2020, the submarine was put afloat to validate the first leak tests.

Begun in the English Channel, these sea trials will lead the Suffren in the Atlantic and finally in the Mediterranean. Carried out under the supervision of engineers and technicians from the DGA, the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energy Commission (CEA), Naval Group and TechnicAtome, they will be carried out by submariners of the French Navy to verify, gradually, all of the ship's technical and operational capabilities. They will last several months until a delivery scheduled for later this year. During the entire phase of sea trials, the ship remains the property of Naval Group. It is placed under the responsibility of the French Navy for its operational command and as a delegated nuclear operator. As the contracting authority for the Barracuda program, the DGA is responsible for testing up the submarine until its reception and its delivery to the French Navy.

The DGA worked with the CEA, the French Navy and industrial prime contractors to allow the program to continue under specific health conditions. Since March 16, the business continuity plan for the Cherbourg site and the Barracuda program takes into account all measures to ensure the safety of the personnel.

In particular, all personnel on board for sea trials have been placed in a preventive fortnight and have been tested negative for COVID-19. Onboard, wearing a mask will be mandatory at all times and the rules of hygiene and disinfection will be strictly applied.


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French jets use new RECO-NG pod to target Daesh
4th May 2020
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The French detachment of Operation Chammal, which is supporting the US Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, has begun using RECO-NG new generation reconnaissance pods to identify Daesh targets.

Manufactured by Thales, the RECO-NG is a long range, high resolution reconnaissance pod designed to enhance surveillance and intelligence imagery capabilities. It has been integrated with French Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighter aircraft.

Col Benjamin Souberbielle, a commander in the French Air Force, said: ‘The RECO-NG makes our missions more flexible… The two aircraft patrol with the ability to achieve three complimentary effects: ground support, air defence and intelligence.’

Each RECO-NG unit is approximately 4.6m long, weighs 1,100kg and is attached underneath the airframe fuselage of the aircraft. It has been successfully used to locate weapons caches, tunnels, vehicles and training camps used by Daesh.
 

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France test-fires submarine-launched ballistic missile
Updated 15.06.2020
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The French Navy submarine Le Temeraire test-fired a ballistic missile across the Atlantic Ocean on Friday. Photo courtesy of the French Navy


(UPI) -- The French Navy on Friday announced the test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Friday by the last submarine in its fleet to receive a missile upgrade.

The missile crossed the Atlantic Ocean, striking an area at sea nearly 400 miles east of Puerto Rico, officials said.

This test was carried out without nuclear warhead and in strict compliance with France's international commitments," an official statement on Friday said. "This firing validates the operational capacity of the SSBN Le Téméraire's global weapon system and once again demonstrates the high-tech excellence that French industries are implementing in this area."

The launch, from the submarine Le Temeraire in Audierne Bay, off the coast of Brittany near western France, was conducted in relative secrecy. Congratulations later were announced by French Defense Secretary Florence Parly and French Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Christophe Prazuck.

The submarine is one of four in the French Navy with the "SSBN" classification, indicating the capability of firing nuclear ballistic missiles underwater.

It is fitted with 16 launching tubes and French-made M51 missiles, as well as traditional armaments. Three of the four submarines, including the Le Temeraire, were retrofitted with the missile capability.

Each missile can carry up to 10 independently targetable TN 75 thermonuclear warheads, although none were used in the test.

Some observers speculated that the test Friday used an advanced version of the missile, the M51 Mk. 3, currently under development. The test also served to underscore France's formidable second-strike nuclear capability.

At least one French SSBN submarine is kept on alert at any time, according to officials.

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French Nuclear Submarine Catches Fire in Mediterranean
Updated 15.06.2020

PARIS (Sputnik) - A Rubis-class French nuclear submarine named Perle has caught fire while anchored on a naval base in the port-city of Toulon on the country's Mediterranean coast, the Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the Mediterranean said on Friday, adding that the incident poses no threat of radioactive pollution.
"Smoke from fire on the Perle is not radioactive. There was no nuclear fuel on board. Reminder: France has sensors installed across the country for detecting any radioactivity anomaly. Watch out for fake news," the prefecture said on Twitter.
Var : un incendie s'est déclaré à bord du sous-marin nucléaire d'attaque Perle à la base navale de #Toulon. Les autorités indiquent qu'il n'y a pas de blessé, précisant que le bâtiment militaire est en entretien et n'est équipé ni d'arme ni de combustible nucléaire (Var-Matin). pic.twitter.com/sxhYlRakYd
— Infos Françaises (@InfosFrancaises) June 12, 2020
In a thread of tweets, the prefecture said that local firefighting brigades were pulled to the scene along with support teams from neighbouring Marseilles.
Firefighters tackling fire on board French Rubis-class SSN Perle https://t.co/Gjg5oX5ixs
— Richard Thomas (@RWJThomas) June 12, 2020
According to the statements, no casualties ensued as a result of the fire.
Perle is one of the six Rubis-class nuclear submarines owned by the French navy, all of them are named after gemstones. It was floated out in 1987 and began operations in 1993. Since January, it has been docked in Toulon for maintenance.
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