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Thales-led group wins German radar deal

PARIS, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- ThalesRaytheonSystems signed a contract worth $133 million with the German BWB defense procurement office to supply six GM 400 air-defense radars.

TRS, which includes Thales Deutschland, Serco and EADS, won against Israeli radar maker Elta, which was bidding through a partnership with German firm OHB Technology.

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EADS will supply the identification friend-or-foe module for the radar units to be built at the Thales plant in Limours near Paris.

The contract for the Ground Master 400 digital 3D radar system includes delivery and installation between 2013 and 2015 and also provides the German air force with a national air surveillance system.

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"We're very proud to have won this in a competitive environment," Philippe Duhamel, chief executive officer of the French Operations at ThalesRaytheonSystems, said. "The BWB is a very demanding customer."

The GM 400 offers high-, medium- and low-altitude detection and high reliability, with a claimed rate of mean-time between critical failures double that of similar systems, Duhamel said.

BWB launched the tender for air-defense radars about two years ago. Around 24 GM 400 systems have been sold globally and TRS is involved currently in 10 radar bids, including France, Malaysia and Slovenia, Duhamel said.

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In April 2009 ThalesRaytheonSystems was selected to deliver medium-range air surveillance systems including 14 Ground Master 400 radar systems -- 12 for Finland and two for Estonia.

The GM fully digital 3-D 400 series has static and mobile radars to provide complete air-defense protection with a range of around 250 miles, Thales said.

It "is the only system that is capable of combining high-quality reconnaissance on the most dangerous threats at high altitudes with extremely high availability and mobility," Thales said. Configuration of the Ground Master series is as a simple radar system to be integrated with existing command and control centers or with their own integrated command-and-control center.

Thales and Raytheon set up their 50-50 U.S.-France joint venture in June 2001 with operating subsidiaries in Fullerton, Calif., and near Paris. TRS employs 1,300 people globally with sales of around $600 million.

The German contract win comes as Thales announced it will acquire French firm SESO, which has headquarters in Aix-en-Provence.

Societe Europeenne de Systemes Optiques designs and manufactures very high-precision optical components and systems based on optical, opto-mechanical and electro-optical technologies.

SESO employs more than 80 engineering and technical specialists. Around 80 percent of its $15.8 million turnover is generated from exports to institutional customers, major corporations and research organizations. Main markets for its mirrors and telescopes are space and defense, scientific programs and high-power laser manufacturers.

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The company's mirrors were selected for the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer and the Pleiades observation satellites and will equip France's future intelligence satellites, Thales said.

SESO also produced optical components for the prototype of France's national Laser Mega Joule project and will provide maintenance services over the installation's 30-year lifetime.

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