The $1.6 billion Watchkeeper program for the British Army has made Thales the biggest UAV company in Europe, and in its UAV systems laboratory, also known as the Soul battlelab near Bordeaux, the company’s engineers are exploring the requirements for future ground control stations and mission systems.
Thales UK announced that its lightweight multirole missile (LMM) has been confirmed for maritime strikes by the UK Lynx Wildcat helicopter. The launch order is for 1,000 missiles with guidance by laser-beam rider to meet the UK’s future anti-surface guided weapon (Light) requirement.
Thales is supplying the cockpit control display and onboard airport navigation systems for ATR’s new -600 series turboprops as part of an extensive package that also includes autopilot, navigation and communications equipment and the integrated modular avionics (IMA) system.
Thales Aerospace is following Embraer’s lead in researching single-crew airliners as part of a program called Cockpit 3.0, which is targeted for the 2030 time frame. Embraer has indicated an interest in an airliner that can be flown with a single pilot, instead of conventional two-pilot crews.
Thales is leading a research project toward what might be the ultimate in avionics displays–a single-display flight deck. Envisioned are curved surfaces, multi-touch screens and enhanced configuration flexibility. The French avionics specialist and its research partners want to create a more intuitive, pilot-centered man-machine interface.
Thales is preparing for an anticipated explosion in demand for in-flight Internet connectivity with the opening of its new Connectivity Suite─a facility with its own satcom connection in which the company’s engineers and airline clients can assess and refine Internet-enabled equipment for both the cabin and the cockpit.
The new TopDeck avionics suite from Thales is set to enter service in about a year on board Sikorsky’s new S-76D, which is due to complete certification in the early part of 2011. But you can see live demonstrations of the integrated system by Sikorsky pilots here at the company’s Heli-Expo exhibit (Booth No. 4536).
A new simulator designed with the latest training approaches in mind is the physical manifestation of a new customer-oriented business approach at Thales’s UK-based simulation and training arm.
Equipment manufacturer Thales is one of the two main shareholders in Helisim, at 45 percent, on par with Eurocopter. The remaining 10 percent is held by Défense Conseil International (DCI). “We see our partnership with Eurocopter as our major investment in simulators,” said Chris Gane, general manager of Thales Training and Simulation. He is looking at opening training centers elsewhere in the world, again in cooperation with Eurocopter.
Dassault Aviation has entered “exclusive negotiations” with Alcatel-Lucent to take over its 20.8-percent stake in defense electronics specialist Thales. The buyout would boost Dassault’s stake in Thales to 26 percent and mark a strong return to defense electronics for the French airframer at a time when the economic slowdown is threatening sales of business jets.