An Aster 15 firing from the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle
An Aster 15 firing from the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle

OCCAR Validated Redesigned SAAM-FR Radar Cabinet of French Navy Aircraft Carrier

OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement) FSAF-PAAMS PD managed with its stakeholders the hardware validation of the redesigned radar cabinet of SAAM-FR system that ensure air defense to French Navy Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. This In-Service Support activity benefits of the synergies pursued by OCCAR/FSAF-PAAMS between the Arabel radar of SAAM-FR and the Arabel radars of FR-IT SAMP/T ground based air defense system. The successful Critical Design Review has been held in Thales premises, on time accordingly to the contractual planning that foresees next incremental steps with tests on-board, taking advantage of next summer ship technical stop and a final qualification end 2023. More than 20 years after SAAM commissioning, the confidence that France has in OCCAR/FSAF-PAAMS capability to manage the air defense of its key assets vessels demonstrates also the relevant Through Life Sustainment Management promoted by OCCAR.

The French Navy variant of the SAAM system, the SAAM-FR, has been installed on board the French Aircraft Carrier “Charles de Gaulle” to ensure its self-defence. SAAM-FR is based on the Aster 15N (N for Navalised). The Arabel Radar is at the top of dedicated mast and a Sylver launcher has been installed in a place specially prepared for it. The Fire Control System is based on the Arabel X Band Multifunctional Radar and is in communication with the Combat Management System of the Carrier (Senit VIII System). The installation of the first of class SAAM-FR system on board of the Charles de Gaulle was carried out in 1999. The Thales Arabel radar is a 3D phased array radar for surveillance, tracking and missile guidance. The system can track up to 100 targets simultaneously and manage the uplink transmission of command update data to 16 missiles simultaneously. The naval variant has been first installed on board the French Navy Ship “Ile d’Oléron”. A second radar was also installed on board French Aircraft Carrier “Charles de Gaulle”.

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Picture of the participants gathering OCCAR, French DGA, GQA representative & industry
Picture of the participants gathering OCCAR, French DGA, GQA representative & industry. (Photo by OCCAR)

Charles de Gaulle is the flagship of the French Navy (Marine Nationale). The ship is the tenth French aircraft carrier, the first French nuclear-powered surface vessel. She is named after French statesman and general Charles de Gaulle. She is a CATOBAR-type carrier that uses two 75 m C13?3 steam catapults of a shorter version of the catapult system installed on the U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, one catapult at the bow and one across the front of the landing area. The ship carries a complement of Dassault Rafale M and E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, AS365F Dauphin Pedro, EC725 Caracal and AS532 Cougar helicopters for combat search and rescue, as well as modern electronics and Aster missiles. Aster is a two-stage missile composed of the body of the missile itself and a booster. The difference between Aster 15 and 30 is only a difference of the booster. For the Aster 30, the booster provides a longer impulse giving the missile the possibility to reach targets at longer ranges. Aster 30 is used for local area defence interceptions when Aster 15 is used for self defence interceptions.

The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation is a European intergovernmental organisation that facilitates and manages collaborative armament programmes through their lifecycle between the governments of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Other states can participate to OCCAR programmes without becoming a member state. Currently the European Union member states and/or NATO members Turkey, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania and Poland participate in one or more OCCAR programmes without being formal members. The 16 programmes currently managed by OCCAR are the following: A400M, Boxer, COBRA (radar), European Secure Software-defined Radio (ESSOR), FREMM (Multimission frigates), FSAF – PAAMS munition (surface-to-air anti-missile system), Logistic Support Ship, European MALE RPAS, MMCM (Maritime Mine Counter Measures), MMF (Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet), MUSIS (MUltinational Space based Imaging System), NVC (Night Vision Capability), PPA (Multipurpose Patrol Ship), Tiger attack helicopter, MAST-F (Missile Air-Sol Tactique Future) and U212 NFS (Near Future Submarine).

An Aster 15 firing from the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle
An Aster 15 firing from the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. (Photo by MBDA/Michel Hans)

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