Collet-Billon On French Defense Strategy To 2019

By Amy Svitak
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

We and our British friends will share the results from Neuron test flights and from the BAE Systems Taranis, when it flies. We intend to have a common specification on a common development and a common view on each part of the future demonstrator, which should fly before the end of the decade. For Neuron we just finished a test sequence for RCS (radar cross-section) at the DGA information superiority center near Rennes. The results are very good. It shows progress is attainable, with no extraordinary effort on the financial side. The Neuron will fly this year, after Le Bourget, in Sweden and in Italy.

What other aircraft programs are underway?

We will do a major midlife upgrade for the Atlantic 2. As we saw in Mali, it is useful to have some multipurpose assets—it is like a Swiss pocketknife. We will keep the platform and the engines, but we will have new radars, new anti-submarine systems, new sonars, new sonobuoys and new optical systems.

What about the new Multirole Transport Tanker (MRTT)?

We just received this month a proposal from EADS-Airbus Military and we are perusing it. This will not be a public financing initiative (PFI) because we require some flexibility and adaptability throughout the life of the contract. We have a need for air-to-air refueling, which is urgent. But the fact is we intend to develop the air-to-air refueling initiative in Europe.

Through the European Defense Agency?

We have to discuss that with other countries—the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, among others. We are also looking at the NATO initiative. But we intend to have the first MRTT in 2018. We hope to have a contract by the end of the year, if the EADS proposal is good.

What are you doing in the area of military space?

We are going to improve our intelligence capabilities. Of course there will be new observation satellites after Helios II, a program called CSO is planned for the end of 2016. We intend to make a proposal to other countries in Europe for this type of system. And we intend also to develop what we call Ceres, an electronic-warfare constellation of four small satellites based on the Elisa demonstrator, which is excellent. That would be before 2020.


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