The contract for designing the system was awarded by DGA, the French defense procurement agency, and is a follow-on award to Thales' work on the risk reduction phase of the system's development.
The targeting pod, known as the New Generation Laser Designation Pod, or PDL NG, is expected to enter series production in 2018. It will provide pilots with new day/night imaging and engagement capabilities
Thales said the system will be integrated onto Rafale and Mirage 2000D fighter aircraft.
"Thales is proud of the confidence that the DGA and the French air force have shown in choosing us to develop this new system," said Gil Michielin, vice president of Thales' optronics business. "The PDL NG is the result of close and constructive collaboration between specifiers, users and Thales. It will provide air forces an effective and competitive system.
"The award of the development contract confirms the government's support for France's airborne optronics sector and its engineering and industrial capabilities."