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A high-availability communication system to control air operations will be supplied to the French Ministry of Defence. The consortium consisting of ENGIE Ineo as prime contractor and Airbus Defence and Space as co-contractor has been awarded the DESCARTES STCA contract.

The eight-year contract signed with the French defence procurement agency (DGA) is part of the DESCARTES programme. The joint contract brings together two industry leaders – on the one hand, ENGIE Ineo, a creator of solutions for connected urban areas and neighbourhoods and on the other, Airbus Defence and Space, which expertises in aeronautics, space and related service.

According to the press release issued by the firms, these procurements will provide forces involved in air operations with an Internet-Protocol (IP) based, secure, cross-site telephone service that will enable military missions to be carried out consistently with civil air traffic control and NATO networks, and to contribute to the implementation of the single European sky.

The contract covers the design, deployment and support of the operational telephone system as well as the security system meeting air traffic control’s very high availability and resilience requirements. It will be rolled out on around 60 sites in mainland France.

“As a supplier of terrestrial or satellite networks for the most modern armed forces worldwide, including those of France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, the United States and NATO, Airbus is proud to be participating in the DESCARTES programme,” said Eric Souleres, Head of French business for the Communications, Intelligence & Security business line, at Airbus Defence and Space.

“ENGIE Ineo has proven expertise in the field of complex systems with high operational requirements. Our teams address challenges in defence and security by making information and communications systems the top priority of our strategic focus,” said Emmanuel Barthoux, Deputy Head of Ineo Defence.

The DESCARTES programme is designed to upgrade all the infrastructure networks of the French Ministry of Defence to meet increased bandwidth, service quality as well as cyber security requirements. The programme includes a “general use” aspect designed to meet the needs of inter-ministerial initiatives in this area. It also includes a “resilient”, highly secure aspect, able to operate even in the event of a serious crisis, in particular for the benefit of nuclear deterrence, joint services territorial organisation command, continuous air security and air traffic control communications.