France’s DGA defence procurement agency has awarded Thales a multi-year contract to research technologies required to produce the next generation of active electronically scanned array radars.

Signed on 29 September and valued at €89 million ($112 million), the four-year agreement will involve around 100 Thales employees performing research work linked to radar, electronic warfare and communications equipment, the company says. It cites modular processors and multifunction panel technologies as examples of the work.

“These new technologies will ultimately equip the [Dassault] Rafale combat aircraft and will be suitable for future unmanned combat air vehicles,” says Thales. “The new arrays will also significantly improve range capabilities and discretion,” it adds.

Rafale over Mali - French air force

French air force

Welcoming the award, company chief executive Jean-Bernard Lévy says: “With this technology study contract, Thales will maintain its lead in the field of active radar antennas, which is essential for the future of defence aerospace.”

Current production examples of the Rafale are being delivered with a Thales RBE2 radar featuring an active antenna.