Training and simulation services division plays increasing part in support of parent company's defence bids

Modelling of weapon-system performance is becoming an increasingly important role for Thales Training & Simulation (TTS), particularly in support of bids by parent defence company Thales. "For complex systems, modelling and simulation is a helpful tool in the early phases," says TTS chief executive Guy Delevacque, citing the company's involvement in the French and UK future carrier programmes and its part in Thales' successful bid for the UK's Watchkeeper unmanned air-vehicle system.

"For Watchkeeper, we provided all simulation in the evaluation phase," says Delevacque. "We built a real model of the future system that was one tool that helped show its performance. We also looked at how to deliver training." A Thales-led team was awarded the £800 million ($1.45 billion) Watchkeeper contact by the UK Ministry of Defence in July.

"It is not just three-dimensional modelling," says Delevacque. "It involves placing the future platform in a tactical environment - the same environment as used in training - and seeing how it performs and evolves in a future tactical environment." Thales is leading work on the French MoD's future networked systems architecture, with TTS providing modelling. Simulation is also being used to study weapon effects. "Modelling is too narrow a word," he says.

TTS is also looking for growth in its military training services business as more MoDs follow the UK's lead in using private finance initiatives (PFI). Thales has teamed with Boeing to bid for the UK Military Flying Training System PFI, with a proposal due by mid-2005.

Delevacque expects Germany eventually to decide in favour of a PFI for its NH90 helicopter training, while the French MoD has committed to outsource more training, he says. "We want to be a training provider and hope to grow our services business."

TTS's business balance has shifted from 50:50 military:civil to 70:30 as the company's commercial flight-simulation market share has declined. "It will change to 80% military," says Delevacque. "Civil will become a minor share, but we will not quit because it is a key market that will continue to develop. We will focus on the Airbus and Boeing markets." Acknowledging TTS has yet to secure an A380 simulator customer, he says: "We will be in the A380 market - the market will never be able to afford just one manufacturer - and it will be the same for the 7E7."

Delevacque was appointed to the simulation and defence services element of the newly created services division of Thales earlier this year following a reorganisation of the company by chairman Denis Ranque. This saw the original business areas and business groups formed into six new divisions: aerospace, air systems, naval, land and joint systems, security and services. The move is intended to strengthen the company in the management of international operations and to better exploit dual technologies while simplifying its structure and reducing overheads.



Source: Flight International