Netherlands – Come Up And See Me, Make Me SMILE

The Koninklijke Marine (Royal Netherlands Navy) will complete testing of the Thales SMILE air and sea search surveillance radar equipping its HNLMS Holland offshore patrol vessel by May next year.

Testing will conclude prior to the ship performing an expected deployment to either the Caribbean or Somalia to support anti-narcotics and anti-piracy missions there.

The SMILE radar is housed within the vessels’ Thales I-Mast 400 integrated mast which adorns the vessel and contains its high Frequency, ultra-high frequency, Ku- and X-band conventional and satellite communications, Plath DFA-2450 Communications Intelligence (COMINT) system and Thales SeaStar X-band surveillance radar. Although the Plath system enables the ship to perform COMINT, she does not carry an integral electronic surveillance measure for radar detection. Both SMILE and SeaStar are alternative designations for the Thales SeaWatcher-100 (SeaStar) and SeaMaster-400 (SMILE).

Onboard the Holland, the SMILE is tasked with performing wide-area, long-range surveillance; with the SeaStar used for the shorter-range detection of smaller targets. The SeaStar also to provides fire control for the ships’ OtoMelara 76mm (2.9in) SuperRapid and 30mm (1.17in) Marlin-WS armament by performing splash detection. Alongside the two Thales radars, the HMNS Holland is outfitted with two Consilium X-band and S-band navigation radars.

Thales engineers were onboard the ship on 23rd November during a vist by ChainHomeHigh. They were performing the final tests of the SMILE radar including calibration experiments using a leased civilian Bombardier Learjet business jet. These tests are being used to complete the production of the software standard which will be loaded into the SMILE radars equipping the other three vessels in the ‘Holland’ class, principally the HNLMS ZealandFrieslandand Groningen. Tests of the SeaStar radar are now complete, with its software standard expected to be signed off by the end of the year.

A rare chance to see the rear of one of the Thales SMILE Antennas equipping the Royal Netherlands Navy’s HNLMS Holland offshore patrol vessel (Copyright – ChainHomeHigh)


France: The View From The Mountain

Franco-American radar specialists ThalesRaytheonSystems (TRS) have provided some additional news regarding its contract to supply the Armée de l’Air (AdlA/French Air Force) with a new GM-406 ground-based air surveillance radar.

It was announced in late October that the company would supply a single radar to equip the AdlA air surveillance facility located at Nice-Mont Agel airbase in southeast France. This facility provides air surveillance of the southern approaches to the country. Presently, it is occupied by two legacy systems, namely two Thompson L-band PALMIER radars (one three-dimensional and one two-dimensional) which will be replaced by the new GM-406 radar.

The GM-406, alongside the GM-403, is part of TRS’s circa 470 kilometre (253 nautical mile) range S-band GM-400 air surveillance radar family manufactured by Thales in France. The principle difference between the two types according to Philippe Duhamel, Chief Executive Officer of TRS-SAS, the French segment of TRS, is that the GM-406 is primarily designed to equip fixed sites, with the GM-403 designed to be deployable. The GM-406 also has a transmitter which is twice as powerful as the GM-403, giving it a 20 percent greater range.

TRS plans to complete the installation of the GM-406 radar at the site in Nice by 2015. It will become operational during the same year. This new radar will represent the third GM-400 system that the company has delivered to the AdlA. It has already delivered a GM-406 to French Guiana, where the system will provide air surveillance to protect the Guiana Space Centre. In addition, Mr. Duhamel says that the company plans to deliver a GM-403 radar to the AdlA by 2014.

Once deployed, the GM-406 in Nice will be linked to the overall AdlA SCCOA (Système de Commandement et de Conduite des Opérations Aériennes/Air Operations Command and Control System) which is being rolled out across the French air force.

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