Thales and Safran signed, Wednesday, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create an equally-owned joint venture for optronics (electro-optical) systems and equipment. French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet attended the signing ceremony.
Through this venture Thales and Safran will combine their respective areas of expertise in optronics, and expand their offering of products and services to cover emerging needs for new defense systems, including both modernization programs and original equipment.
The new systems under consideration include the optronics pod for the modernized Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft, the imaging system for the upcoming French-British MALE (medium altitude, long endurance) drone, modular optronics systems for army land vehicles, and optronics for tomorrow's helicopters.
The partnership will be in the form of a joint venture covering technical, commercial and program aspects, with the industrial assets remaining under the control of the two parent companies.
Through this agreement, Thales and Safran are aiming to strengthen the national technology base for infrared (IR) detectors, whose cost-effectiveness is a key to the competitiveness of optronic systems. They also intend to strengthen their jointly owned subsidiary Sofradir, in which each company has a 40% stake, to meet their own strategic needs, as well as to expand its presence in the open international market, which remains a key to ensuring the economic viability of this technology. Safran and Thales will eventually transfer to this new partnership the infrared detector technologies that they are currently developing within their own units.
Thales Chairman and CEO Luc Vigneron paid tribute to "a win-win partnership which will deliver best-in-class technologies to our customers, and bolster our position in international markets."
Safran Chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Herteman added: "I am delighted to sign this future-looking partnership, which enables us to avoid duplicating major funding, and also brings together the top skills in this field, fostering dynamic synergies between our teams."