Thales is to supply its CERBERE solution to the French Army to enable combined-arms task forces to train in conditions very close to those encountered on operational deployments.The new system, whose name is an acronym for: Centres d’entraînement représentatifs des espaces de bataille et de restitution des engagements, or “training centres which are representative of the battle space and restituting engagements”, will be installed at the Sissonne army base for urban combat training in northern France (CENZUB) and at Mailly-le-Camp in north-central France for training in open terrain operations (CENTAC).
The French DGA defence procurement agency awarded the contract to Thales and its partner RUAG Defence France on 31 December 2016, but the information was only released on 19 January. This instrumented tactical engagement simulation system for training land forces under real operational conditions enables modern armed forces to track and analyse every phase of a tactical engagement when training for the digitalised battlefield. The DGA says that the system will allow for 1,000 personnel and 250 vehicles to engage in simulated combat for a duration of up to 96 hours in each of the two training centres. At Sissonne, the 300-building combat village is fully equipped to track and analyse combat manoeuvres both inside and outside the buildings. At Mailly-le-Camp, exercises are conducted in open terrain over a training area of 120km².
The DGA notes that CERBERE will allow all the new operational capacities procured by the Scorpion army modernisation programme to be simulated, notably collaborative combat, the Griffon and Jaguar armoured vehicles and renovated Leclerc tank and their various munitions, the MMP missile, the AIF new individual soldier’s weapon, the SICS information system, the Contact radio system, etc. “A first capacity will be delivered in 2019 to match the acceleration of the Scorpion programme,” the DGA states.
Thales remarks that in order to develop “this innovative and robust simulation system”, it drew “on more than 20 years of experience as industrial prime contractor for live combat training programmes, in particular with the CENTAURE system currently in service with the French Army.” It adds that CERBERE, built around an open architecture, is “competitively priced” and “offers substantial development headroom to accommodate new technologies and can be readily adapted to meet the needs of other nations.”
Personnel taking part in training exercises are issued with laser transmitters and receivers to simulate weapon firing and effects. A positioning system, accurate to within 1cm inside buildings, reports positions and engagements across a high-speed data network in near real time. Pyrotechnic devices and smoke grenades are used intensively to simulate real battlefield conditions, helping personnel experience the stress of combat in situations that closely resemble live missions. The “enemy” forces are provided by personnel from the two training centres.
For tactical situation tracking and combat supervision, Thales is also providing a dedicated communication infrastructure, which draws on the latest civil mobile telephony technologies adapted to this training system in France, as well as securing data transmissions (LTE). Thales stresses that “the system includes an after-action review function to analyse collective or individual manoeuvres after the combat phases of the mission. This after-action review function completes the learning process in combined-arms training and improves the operational performance of units in the field.”