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Thales Prime Contractor for MINTEM Payload

Thales Prime Contractor for MINTEM Payload

Thales wins over 100 million Euro prime contract for France’s next-generation SIGINT vessel and MINREM payload. Source: Thales Group, Paris, January 14, 2002.

The Naval Procurement Directorate (SPN) of the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) has named Thales as the prime contractor for the country’s next-generation SIGINT vessel and her MINREM payload. Thales won the contract to replace the Bougainville following a hard-fought competition. The payload part of the contract calls for the development and supply of a shipboard MINREM Joint Forces' Electronic Intelligence System meeting specifications defined by France’s Directorate of Military Intelligence (DRM). The new SIGINT vessel, to be operated by the French Navy, will form a key component of France’s Joint Forces' C3I (communications, control, command and intelligence) system. In peacetime, she will perform electronic intelligence missions in all waters. During crises and wars, she will gather and produce intelligence to help France’s military authorities assess fast-evolving situations and issue warnings.

Courtesy Thales Naval France

Thales and co-bidder Compagnie Nationale de Navigation propose a solution meeting the full range of requirements stipulated by the DRM. The proposed open architecture offers ample flexibility for upgrades over the vessel’s 30-year design life. Thales’ vast experience in intelligence systems, including long-term collaboration with the DRM and the French armed forces, allow the company to ensure interoperability with the DRM’s other intelligence gathering systems.

To ensure the programme’s success, Thales has set up an integrated prime contracting team drawn from its French companies:

  • Thales Naval France will act as overall prime contractor, taking responsibility for project management, prime contractor-level engineering, functional integration, and acceptance testing both at the factory and during sea trials.
  • Thales Communications will act as prime contractor for the MINREM payload, taking responsibility for all electronic systems (COMINT and ELINT), IT systems for intelligence, and internal and external communications.
  • Thales Systèmes Aéroportés will supply the ELINT system to intercept and process electromagnetic signals.

Compagnie Nationale de Navigation, with its subsidiary Compagnie Maritime Nantaise, will supply the platform, or bare vessel. The hull will be built in the Netherlands and all equipment integration and support will be provided by Thales in France. The contract, worth over € 100 million, includes five years’ maintenance and operational support. The support services proposed by Thales and Compagnie Nationale de Navigation will ensure vessel availability meeting or exceeding 350 days per year.

This is the first prime contract for a new-build vessel for the French Navy awarded to Thales. Thales’ excellent track record as a ship prime contractor for international customers was confirmed by the recent winning of the contract for the phase 2 feasibility study for the British Navy’s future aircraft carrier. These two important milestones are in line with Thales’ European strategy in naval prime contracting.


The MINREM payload will gather signals intelligence (SIGINT) over periods of several months at a time for the DRM (Direction du Renseignement Militaire) or Directorate of Military Intelligence. The payload will feature electronic and IT systems for signal interception, listening and direction finding, as well as communications and electronic intelligence (COMINT and ELINT), including radar intelligence. All systems will accommodate the latest signal types.

The vessel will have an overall length of 100m and accommodation for 108 people including a crew of 30. She will feature a high-performance stabilization system offering a steady cruising speed of 16 knots up to sea state 3 and 10 knots up to sea state 6. Other features include a helicopter landing pad, underway replenishment and refuelling.

The open architecture provides full provision for successive upgrades and modifications over a 15-year design life for the payload and a 30-year design life for the platform.

Press Contacts:

  • Matt Pothecary - Thales - Tél : 01 53 77 86 26
  • Christelle Girerd – Thales Naval - Tél : 01 53 77 85 13
  • Michel Moreau – Compagnie Nationale de Navigation Tél : 02 40 44 23 01

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).