Sébastien Lecornu, the French Minister of the Defense, embarked on a historic visit to Chisinau on September 25, where he concluded a Letter of Intent with his Moldovan counterpart, Anatolie Nosatîi. The agreement aims to bolster defense cooperation between France and Moldova, providing essential support to Moldova in the face of complex regional challenges. Moldova, with its 1,000-kilometer border adjoining Ukraine, finds itself in a complex geopolitical setting, notably impacted by the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict. This visit is not only timely but also holds a special significance given Moldova’s ongoing territorial dispute due to the secession of Transnistria. This collaborative endeavor aligns with Moldova’s broader goal of accession to the European Union, an objective actively endorsed by France since June 24, 2022.
The Letter of Intent establishes a foundation for a robust defense partnership. It outlines various facets of cooperation, including the training of Moldovan military personnel, support for the Ministry of Defense in capacity development, and potential acquisitions of defense equipment. This marks a pivotal moment in the relationship between the two nations. One of the notable developments during the meeting was Moldova’s announcement of the acquisition of a GM200 radar, a sophisticated aerial surveillance system manufactured by Thales. This radar system can simultaneously detect and track targets moving across a wide range of altitudes, ensuring the security of Moldovan airspace. This commitment to Moldovan airspace security underscores the depth of France’s dedication to Moldova’s defense and regional stability.
The Ground Master 200 (GM200) is a medium range AESA 3D radar manufactured by Thales Group. The system fits in a 20 ft ISO shelter and weighs less than ten tons. It includes power generator unit, mast, and room for 2 workstations with a set of radio voice and data communications. The GM200 is transportable by road, rail, tactical aircraft (C-130 type) or helicopter. The GM200 can be set up in 15 minutes and be operated remotely or locally. The GM200 operates as an air surveillance gap filler or a sensor for an air defence system. The GM200 also features a surface channel and a Rocket/Artillery/Mortar sense and warn capability. This radar is part of the Ground Master family alongside its upgraded variants (the GM200 MM/A and MM/C) as well as the short-range GM60 and long range GM400 and their respective variants.
Highly mobile, the GM200 is an autonomous solution designed to fit the radar, a mast, a Power Generator Unit (PGU) and an operational cabin to accommodate two operators within a 20ft ISO shelter. Transportable on a truck and deployable for operations in 15 minutes, with a decamp time of 10 minutes, it provides operators with crucial asset survivability and are the key benefits of this radar. When deployed in complex theatres of operations, armed forces can be vulnerable to a large panel of threats. Missiles threatening the airspace are only one of them. From Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (RAM) to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) operating at low to medium altitudes and, potentially, in armed swarms, the battle space can be saturated and overwhelming. A true multi-mission radar, the GM200 provides armed forces with launch and impact threat coordinates for multiple, simultaneous threats. This capability warns people in the area, giving them a few seconds to seek refuge.