The European Defence Agency (EDA) has commissioned Thales to conduct a study of the main terrestrial and satellite communication network programmes in European Union countries: FUCOM (for future communications).
The FUCOM project will compile, in the area of military communications, an inventory of the main member states’ existing and future assets, including military satellite communication systems, terrestrial tactical communications (software-defined radio), PMR (professional mobile radio) and LTE (long-term evolution) capabilities.
On the basis of this inventory, the FUCOM project will then propose ways of combining available resources to provide European Union forces with the systems they would need to conduct various types of missions.
To ensure interoperability in a context where few frequency bands are available, wireless communications need to be harmonised. EU member states have tended to address this issue in a piecemeal approach, through a varying array of developments and standards that are not always compatible with each other.
This has resulted in a loss of overall efficiency and has made it increasingly difficult for forces to cooperate on multinational operations. It also increases the risk of reliance on third-party nations, particularly the United States, for certain interoperable assets or resources.
The FUCOM project will issue a set of recommendations based on the existing and future systems of EU member states, and will specify the technical and operational resources and technological solutions needed to ensure a cohesive capability.
The FUCOM project will comprise four phases:
- Identification of operational scenarios and capability requirements, including an inventory of the main existing space-based communication systems (Syracuse in France, Skynet 5 in the United Kingdom, Sicral in Italy, etc.) and terrestrial systems (software-defined radio projects such as Contact in France, etc.)
- Technical characterisation of the communication systems needed to support these operational scenarios
- Identification of possible future capability gaps
- Analysis of the radio frequency spectrum to determine which frequency bands are available.
Thales said it is the only company selected to conduct the FUCOM study, reflecting its European leadership in military communications and proven know-how in this field. From hand-held radios to satellite communication solutions, Thales is playing a central role in meeting the network capability requirements of the armed forces and maintains a high level of expertise in all the key technologies involved.
In addition, the Group's strategic positioning across all segments of military communications is perfectly in line with the EDA's objectives, according to the company. It continued by saying with its operational understanding of different types of military conflicts and its expertise in military communication technologies, Thales is ideally positioned to assume to high-level consultancy role required by the EDA.
Thales is a well known provider of military communication solutions, including tactical radio systems, resilient networks, secure satellite communications and professional mobile radio (PMR).
Thales has acted as prime contractor on a number of key military satellite telecommunications programmes over the last 30 years (Syracuse 1, 2, 3 and Sicral 1, 2) and is also a major industry player on the first European (French-Italian) cooperative military and dual-use space telecommunications programmes (Sicral 2, Athena Fidus).