Those companies that specialise in interphones may be interested to know that the French armed forces are seeking new wireless communication systems for their helicopters, according to an announcement published on 6 August in the official bulletin for public markets (BOAMP). The French DGA procurement agency needs at least 650 mobiles linked to 140 wireless communications systems, a quantity which could rise if necessary… but could also drop, “the unit price of the system chosen” perhaps “leading to an initial supply lower than that originally specified.” The DGA is thus putting quality over quantity.
The “wireless communication system for helicopters” must function in harsh environmental conditions (rain, snow, wind, sand, dust, sun, sea), according to the BOAMP, and be useable by the whole range of French military rotary wing aircraft except for the Tiger: the EC 725 Caracals, Pumas, Cougars, Super Pumas, NH 90 Caïmans, Gazelles, and Fennecs flown by the army; the Lynxes, Dauphins, Panthers and Alouette III 319s flown by the navy and the two EC 225 (the civilian version of the EC 725 Caracal) received by the air force at the end of June from the French navy’s 32F fleet.
The system must allow “at least 5 people in the helicopter bay to communicate with excellent voice quality.” Designed to be used in or near a helicopter the “portable and individual system must allow free movement in the bay whilst guaranteeing communication with the flight crew (…)” and it must function with different headphones and microphones, some of which are already in use with the wired intercom systems of the helicopters mentioned above.
Responses to this tender must be received by 15:00 on 11 October 2016.
French defence companies are well positioned in this sector. Apart from the majors such as Thales and Safran, there is also ELNO, based in Argenteuil (north of Paris) whose ELIPS intercom system will equip the French Jaguar and Griffon armoured vehicles made by Nexter, RTD and Thales, in addition to the Belgian army’s DINGO 2 made by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.