Thales signed a fixed-price availability contract with the French ministry of defense for support of the Rafale fighter. The company is the last of the three big Rafale contractors to agree to a long-term partnership deal for support. Dassault signed a 10-year agreement in 2008, and engine supplier Snecma followed with a five-year agreement in 2010.
The new Thales contract is also for 10 years, and covers the Rafale’s radar, avionics, optronics, communications and electronic warfare systems. Thales said the arrangement would guarantee fleet availability by optimizing the management of replacement parts; building logistics management and information flows with government agencies; streamlining equipment repair processes; and deploying technical and logistics advisors to work directly with users on French military bases. Merry Michaux, the company’s managing director for military support, said the new contract’s “innovative concepts and collaborative working methods…will make a significant contribution to optimizing availability of the Rafale fleet and bringing down the aircraft’s cost per flying hour.” Thales said it would propose similar contracts for other equipment types and aircraft.
Separately, Thales and Safran have agreed to combine their optronics businesses in a joint venture. The pair said they are eyeing future requirements, including the imaging system for the proposed Franco-British Telemos Male UAV and an optronics pod for the Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft. The move would also strengthen the French technology base for infrared detectors, they said.