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DCI celebrates 100,000 EC120 flight hours and the creation of the CIF-H

By Joseph Roukoz

DCI, created 43 years ago, is a company which puts at the disposal of France’s friendly countries, the know-how of the French army and that of the Direction Générale de l’Armement, whether in the fields of education, training and operational readiness, as well as in advising for procurement of equipment or even more for the overhaul and operational readiness preparation of military equipment.

Mr. Jean-Michel Palagos President-General Directeur of DCI and Helidax and Mrs Julia Maris General Directeur of DCI during the Press Conference
Mr. Jean-Michel Palagos President-General Directeur of DCI and Helidax and Mrs Julia Maris General Directeur of DCI during the Press Conference

Helidax, a subsidiary of DCI and INAER Helicopter France, altogether with the EALAT Dax Army Aviation school celebrated today a major event as the school logged its 100,000 hours of flight on the Airbus Helicopter EC120 Colibri, in their Calliope configuration. This outstanding performance was carried out in only five years of operations, and thanks to the support of the Helidax company which has been able to ensure a high availability of its rotorcraft fleet.

Out of a 36 helicopter fleet, Helidax puts on hand immediately, every morning, 32 machines available simultaneously for students of the EALAT, with a 100 percent of the means requested by the school regularly. Since May 2010, Helidax participated in the training of more than 500 student pilots and instructors, all hailing from various branches of the French and Belgian Armies, as well as from Niger.

In a press conference at the DCI headquarters, President and CEO of DCI and president of Hélidax Jean-Michel Palagos stated: « As the first public-private partnership launched by the Ministry of defence in 2008, Helidax has shown all its relevance, moreover we today respond perfectly to the French State’s expectations ». In total harmony and collaboration with the French Army, Air Force and Navy “our fleet of helicopters, equipped with a digital cockpit, allows students to prepare for the interfaces of modern helicopters. We are very pleased with this success and we now can glimpse at the future with optimism. “

Among the various news given by Mr. Palagos during his press conference is the setting up of the Centre international de formation hélicoptères (CIF-H) which called for the procurement of three additional helicopters.

The mission of this new centre, located on the sites of the EALAT in Dax and in le Luc-en-Provence — even if the central database remains clearly in Dax — is to transfer all of the French EALAT’s know-how to friendly countries of France. The CIF-H curricula are taught either in English or French and in partnership with the Army Aviation (ALAT) and Helidax.

Helidax is today contractually committed, under the public-private partnership signed with the Ministry of Defence, to provide priority for the French Armed Forces the flying hours necessary for their training. As the needs of the CIF-H only could be honoured up to two-thirds of the requirements (approximately 2000 hours of flight for 2016). DCI decided to acquire three additional EC120 aircraft, and to upgrade them to then the same standard as those of Helidax, « for the sake of homogenization », the President and CEO said.

DSEI report 2015

By David Oliver

At DSEI, MBDA highlighted the progress of Sea Ceptor, the next-generation, ship-based, all-weather, air defence weapon system ordered by the UK MoD. Utilising the Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM), Sea Ceptor provides complete protection against all known and projected air targets. The weapon system is now in full-scale development for the as the principal air defence capability for the Royal Navy’s Type 23 and Type 26 frigates.

The SEA VENOM /ANL at MBDA stand in DSEI (David Oliver)
The SEA VENOM /ANL at MBDA stand in DSEI (David Oliver)

Sea Ceptor is designed to protect both the host ship and high value units in the local area. The all weather weapon System has the capability to intercept and thereby neutralise the full range of current and future threats including combat aircraft and the new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles. Capable of multiple channels of fire, the system will also counter saturation attacks with a range of 25 km.

The missile can operate from the DCNS Sylver and Lockheed Martin Mk41 launchers using a quad-pack configuration to maximize pacing density and for optimum installation on smaller ships. The soft vertical launch technology reduces system weight and provides flexible installation. The weapon’s Command and Control system is designed to be integrated into new or existing naval combat systems. A dedicated tracking radar is not required as Sea Ceptor is able to use data provided by the ship’s surveillance radar.

Sea Ceptor will enter service in 2016 to replace VL Seawolf for the remaining life of the Type 23s, the first being HMS Argyll, after which it will equip the Royal Navy’s Type 26 Global Combat Ship. Sea Ceptor will use the same 32 missile silos as Sea Wolf and 75 percent of its software and the same architecture as MBDA’s Sea Viper. The missile is undertaking a three phase firing trial at the Vidsel Test Range in Sweden while the Royal Navy will conduct live and modeling trials on HMS Argyll in 2017.

MBDA announced at DSEI that it has received a contract worth over £300M from Ministry of Defence (MoD) that ensures the Royal Air Force (RAF) remains equipped with MBDA’s infra-red guided air-to-air missile, ASRAAM. The contract covers the supply of new missiles to refresh the existing inventory of ASRAAM. Value for money is ensured through the re-use of components from other MBDA products such as the Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM). The missiles will be produced at MBDA’s new manufacturing and assembly site in the UK at Bolton that will be commissioned in mid-2016.

Thales’s launched at DSEI its new modular Watchkeeper X system that reflects a growing need for high-end military-standard Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability to wider markets. This modular Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) offers a range of options that can be adapted to specific operational requirements. The versatile system is ideal for providing high-performance ISTAR over a wide range of air, land and maritime scenarios but can now also provide covert, rapid reaction to threats if required.

Thales aims to deliver Watchkeeper X, a fully certified, combat proven, high performance UAS, through collaboration with local industries and partnerships. Thales is now offering a range of options in sensors, exploitation, mobility and effectors, which can be integrated, upgraded or adapted to make this a fully flexible, modular capability today and in the future.

Thales Watchkeeper X (David Oliver)
Thales Watchkeeper X (David Oliver)

The sensors option builds on the dual payload configuration of the aircraft to offer cameras, radar, electronic surveillance and a fully integrated simultaneous operation. The mobility option offers a range of solutions to provide fixed infrastructure operations or full expeditionary or mobile deployments. The exploitation option pulls on our experience of data management and dissemination to give you the tools such as datalinks to transport information anywhere in the world, protect that information and exploit it to maximum effect. And the effectors option gives the capability to deliver effect directly or indirectly. With its fast deployment, high endurance, flexible payloads and precision strike, Watchkeeper X will respond to the growing need for ISTAR capabilities. Whilst built to the same standards as a manned aircraft, it is air-transportable in C-130 or A400M aircraft and its modular design means it can be adapted and upgraded for specific operational requirements. Watchkeeper is the only UAV platform that is civil-certified to STANAG 4671 and CS23.

The Watchkeeper X has been proposed for the French Army’s Système de Drone Tactique (SDT) programme to replace its Sperwer tactical UAVs. The variant offered by Thales includes a new full-high-definition L’Heritier video camera datalink connectivity with the French C4ISR system, and a remote video terminal that is fully compatible with the Rover 4 and 5 terminals used by French ground forces. A decision on the SDT programme is expected before the end of the year.

WB Electronics and Thales have also recently unveiled their tactical unmanned aircraft system for the Polish Gryf requirement based on the combat-proven unarmed Watchkeeper system delivered to the British Army. The WB Electronics/Thales solution will integrate its surveillance capability with a strike capability of the Thales FreeFall Lightweight Multi-role Missile (FFLMM) together on a single platform.

Highlights presented by RUAG at the event included a highly effective protection against mines for armoured crew-carrying vehicles, which was a winner in Germany against stern competition, and which will be fitted to 405 PUMA vehicles. Also on show was Missim, a new three-in-one test device for aircraft defence systems. This can test the deployment readiness of radar, laser, and UV sources simultaneously, and thus provides certainty about their functioning.

RUAG Ammotec launched two new products at DSEI, the .50 Browning Armour Piercing Incendiary SX (API) with a hardened steel core to resist deformation even when striking armour. RUAG has also developed a new bullet construction for its .338 LM SWISS P API with new materials to enhance the penetration power with unchanged accuracy. The new bullet is capable of penetrating 13 mm steel plate at 600 m, or body armour at 500 m.

RUAG API display (David Oliver)
RUAG API display (David Oliver)

RUAG Aviation also confirmed the start of serial production of the Dornier 228 New Generation (NG) 19-seat passenger-cargo transport aircraft. Four aircraft per year will be produced at its Munich-Oberpfaffenhofen plant from mid-2016. Already sold to the Venezuelan Air Force, RUAG is targeting the Middle East and Asia Pacific for future sales that could involve a maritime patrol variant. RUAG Aviation is the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of the Dornier 228 aircraft and is a leading supplier, support provider and integrator of aircraft systems and components of civil and military customers of the Dornier 228 classic.

PHOTONIS launched a new 4G Night Vision 16 mm INTENS Image Intensifier at DSEI. 4G Night Vision represents the highest performance for complex missions from lowest light levels up to very demanding aerial applications. As size, weight and power (SWaP) requirements for man portable equipment become more critical, the new INTENS 16 mm intensifier opens up a new market to users. Night Vision goggles (NVG), monocles and weapon sights can now be equipped with the highest night vision performance available today that meet SWaP demands.  At the same time PHOTONIS displayed its latest addition digital sensors NOCTURN – LYNX (monochrome) and KAMELEON (colour) camera cores. These new sensors enable low light digital imaging for weapon sight, helmet mounted and precision targeting applications.

Photonis 4G Night Vision (David Oliver)
Photonis 4G Night Vision (David Oliver)

The KAMELEON Complementary Metal Oxide Silicon (CMOS) colour imaging sensor is the first operational sensor specifically designed for night vision, homeland security, surveillance and scientific applications. This solid-state CMOS sensor provides excellent colour imaging across varying light conditions, from daylight to low-light levels such as those found during a quarter-moon. The KAMELEON CMOS pixel architecture offers the best compromise between inherent signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), high resolution and intrascene dynamic range. The KAMELEON CMOS colour sensor provides a single-solution technology for day through night imaging without additional illumination. The user can opt for color images in extreme low light conditions or utilize the sensor’s default monochrome image.

The NOCTURN digital extreme low-light CMOS cameras’ compact size and low power consumption make them ideal for man-portable vision systems used by special forces, as well as UAV ISTAR and unmanned remote surveillance.

The latest sensor launched at DSEI is the EBCMOS, an Electronic Bombarded CMOS sensor that enables digital imaging at Night Level 5 (down to 10 µ lux, or overcast starlight). EBCMOS digital imaging can operate in extreme low light, has a ruggedized housing, a high frame rate, no latency and a resolution optimal for mobile applications.   The OPTSYS Night Vision Ruggedized Camera Driver Periscope application was also demonstrated. A subsidiary of Nexter Group, OPTSYS products equip Leclerc tanks, VBCI and Aravis in outside operation. It has developed a wide expertise regarding the design and manufacturing of high precision and high technology components of optical, opto-mechanical and optronic systems. OPTSYS is a well-known actor in the field of medium and large dimension of flat optical.

DCNS all tuned up for success

By Joseph Roukoz et Jean Michel Guhl

In Paris, on last 23 July, Hervé Guillou, Chairman and CEO of DCNS announced that: “With a portfolio of innovative and competitive products and services, and an order book providing good forward visibility, DCNS will reach its planned targets thanks to the mobilisation of its teams. The Group has already demonstrated its capacity to successfully rise to the greatest of challenges. DCNS is now at a key moment in its existence and must find within itself the resources necessary for its growth.” European leader for the military naval sector, DCNS benefits from first-rate advantages to grow on its natural markets. With its almost 400 years of history and the skills of its teams, DCNS is willing to develop within ten years a sustainable and profitable business in France, in Europe and internationally. The whole company is committed to reaching these goals thanks to its Progress Plan. 

Hervé Guillou, the CEO of DCNS who just celebrated one year at the helm of France's main military shipyards. © Joseph Roukoz
Hervé Guillou, the CEO of DCNS who just celebrated one year at the helm of France’s main military shipyards. © Joseph Roukoz

A Progress Plan for a return to performance 

After several months of discussions mobilising the teams at all levels of the Group, DCNS is now deploying a Progress Plan to re-balance its accounts as soon as 2015, re-establish its investment capacities and return to growth. This medium-term plan will act upon the industrial and managerial basics, the product policy, the indirect cost structures, the work organisation and the modernization of our IT and industrial infrastructures.

Within the frame of this plan, the Group is already in working order to initiate cost-reduction measures in the short-term representing savings of €100 million. Furthermore, DCNS has recently initiated new discussions with the social partners.

With re-established balanced accounts in 2015, DCNS aims to achieve a turnover of €5 billion in a single decade, a half of which internationally and a part of it in marine renewable energies. The Group also intends to be among the most competitive actors on the market.

The progress achieved will allow DCNS to return to growth, supported by the three main pillars of its strategic roadmap: an increased and sustainable international presence, the development of sovereignty competencies in naval defence and controlled diversification in the energy sector.

An ambitious international development plan

In a context of reduced Defence budgets in France and in Europe, and increasing competition, within the next ten years DCNS must be in a position to gain half of its turnover on international markets. To rise to this major challenge, DCNS is transforming its product policy to adapt it to the market and, in the frame of current and future contracts, is significantly increasing its multi-domestic presence. DCNS will strengthen its industrial anchoring in the countries in which it is already present. Furthermore, the Group will establish a local presence in a certain number of prospective countries. Last but not least, DCNS will seize all opportunities for local cooperation to support the industrial choices of its clients.

The Egyptian FREMM frigate FGG-1 Tahya Misr seen leaving the harbour of Brest for her nine day transit to Alexandria, her new homeport. © DCNS
The Egyptian FREMM frigate FGG-1 Tahya Misr seen leaving the harbour of Brest for her nine day transit to Alexandria, her new homeport. © DCNS

The desire to remain a pillar of sovereignty for France and her client countries

As a major partner of the French Navy, DCNS intends to sustainably develop its skills and the resources necessary for protecting the sovereignty interests of France and her client countries. Through its complex programmes with major strategic implications, the Group is pursuing investments in the development of its industrial infrastructures, technologies and critical skills.

A controlled diversification in energy-related activities

After five years of technological developments in the area of marine renewable energy, DCNS is willing to realise between 15 and 20% of its turnover in this sector by 2024.

In order to achieve this goal, the Group has decided to focus its investments which will be exclusively dedicated to solutions allowing us to achieve a competitive electricity cost on the targeted markets and for which DCNS has a technological advance.

In tidal energy, capitalising on its technological lead, DCNS is accelerating its industrial development and in 2015 will install two experimental tidal arrays in France and Canada, representing the preliminary steps before the commercial deployment.

In offshore floating wind energy, DCNS is pursuing its activities in cooperation with Alstom to develop a 6-MW integrated floating wind-turbine system by 2019.

Ocean thermal energy conversion might be an interesting resource yet there are still important technological challenges to be met.

As Hervé Guillou pointed « through the implementation of this pro-active plan, DCNS teams have all the assets to ensure the success of this transformation. The Group is now in perfect working order. Its history, talents and innovations will enable DCNS to become a European naval champion and a world reference ».