Thales Alenia Space have signed a contract with the French defence procurement agency to carry out a concept study concerning intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications using a Stratobus type platform to meet French army operational needs.
Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%).
Thales say that the aim of the contract is to study the benefits of continuous stratospheric platforms to improve and expand France’s defense capabilities.
More specifically, the contract includes studies of:
- An operational concept study for an ISR mission including exercises simulating its use in theaters of operation.
- A full-scale demonstrator concept, capable of flying in the stratosphere to demonstrate the in-flight performance of an ISR mission of this type.
“The aim of this contract is to assess the relevance of Stratobus type continuous stratospheric solutions to meet defense needs, and also marks a major step forward in the definition of a possible operational solution in conjunction with users” said Jean-Philippe Chessel, Director of the Stratobus product line.
“It will enable us to prepare the foundations for the development of a complete solution, including high-reliability autonomous avionics, as well as all control aspects. We are aiming to carry out a flight demonstration by the end of 2023. The Stratobus project has been supported by the French government from the outset within the scope of the Investment in the Future plan and a European regional development fund (FEDER) for the French Riviera region.”
Thales also adds that a ‘Stratobus type’ stratospheric solutions offer two main advantages:
- It significantly increases the area monitored by a single platform, especially by eliminating terrain masking.
- It offers an ability to linger over an area, thus improving resilience in relation to current naval, airborne, ground and space solutions.
According to the website:
“Because it is stationary, the Stratobus can offer the permanent regional coverage that moving drones and observation satellites cannot. In addition to surveillance of borders or high-value sites such as offshore platforms, the Stratobus can carry out other missions on land or at sea, including security (the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking), environmental monitoring (forest fires, soil erosion, pollution), telecommunications (Internet, 4G/5G) and navigation (GPS local reinforcement).”