Success of ARTIST, the first field experiment in the BOA upstream study program of the French army

From 12 September to 2 October 2009, the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), the French Army and the Thales Nexter Sagem industrial group tested the concepts arising from the BOA (Bulle Opérationnelle Aéroterrestre or Air-land operational digitalisation) upstream study plan (Programme Etudes Amont or PEA) for the first time in real conditions, as part of the ARTIST experiment. The demonstrations took place successfully on the Bonnland test ground in Germany, 100km east of Frankfurt.

The ARTIST experiment, carried out jointly with the German Army, was successful. Hinged around a command centre, four vehicles, three robots, one drone and two groups of soldiers, it aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the battlefield digitisation in three separate scenarios::

1. Reconnaissance of a village;
2. A coordinated reply to a counter-attack by the enemy;
3. Control of enemy elements and the taking of the village;

For this experiment, the Thales Nexter Sagem group developed:

  • A Communications System (Thales) providing services of end-to-end voice, data and video exchange and interoperability between mixed communications systems, as well as ensuring on-board / on foot combat continuity;
  • An AMX 10 VOA platform equipped with facilities heralding future armoured vehicle vetronics (Nexter Systems), and making it possible to assess the coordination of the crew in its observation and firing actions through a specialised Man-Machine Interface;
  • A Robot Spotter remotely operated under armour (Nexter Systems, ECA and Robosoft) making it possible to assess the operational added value of a land-based robot component associated with the on-board combat vehicle;
  • An Operational Information and Circumstance Communication System (Sagem), a tactical command system that can work with the German system;
  • An info-enhanced Combatants system (Sagem) supplementing the FELIN system of the on-foot combatants;
  • Finally, a multi-screen and multimedia work station (Sagem) providing the Exercise Control and Measurement & Operating System functions.

During the ARTIST experiment, the French and German sections were therefore coordinated throughout the scenarios in terms of information (voice, data, cartography and video) and action (coordinated fire control).

"The ARTIST demonstration is essential for the success of the BOA. It has enabled us to validate its systems and operational concepts," explained Willy Lamal, Manager of the BOA demonstrator PEA at the French Defence Procurement Agency. "Thales, Nexter and Sagem have in fact been able to combine their expertise to provide us with relevant feedback in many fields: operational, human factors, technical and logistical."

ARTIST demonstrates the use of innovative services, systems and technologies within the context of the battlefield digitisation. Its major objective is to supply the best possible architecture for the development of the next contact system.
"The Army has followed the preparation and execution of this experiment with interest," explained Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Desbois, BOA Integrated Project Team Leader in the Technical Section of the Army (Section Technique de l'Armée de Terre or STAT). "ARTIST has made it possible to study the contribution digitisation makes to the smallest tactical echelons and means that lessons can be learned for higher echelons."

ARTIST has also made it possible to validate the capacity to carry out joint demonstrations with Germany of the interoperability of functionalities developed on land-based platforms operating in a digitised battlefield.

ARTIST, BOA and SCORPION

The BOA is the result of a close partnership between the DGA, the French Army and the Thales-Nexter-Sagem industrial group. Launched at the beginning of 2006, this programme aims to demonstrate to the Army the contribution digitisation makes on the battlefield.
Three field experiments are scheduled for TACTIC, the BOA PEA demonstrator. They are planned to continue until 2012. ARTIST (or Architecture Real Time Integration System Testbench) was the first of these experiments and demonstrated BOA's first added value.

The BOA is a major PEA for the process of converting the French Army and makes it possible to effectively introduce new systems and adapt existing equipment as part of the SCORPION programme.

The industrial group set up an Integrated Contract Management Team (Equipe Intégrée de Maîtrise D'Oeuvre or EIMO) at the beginning of 2006. Located at a single site, in Satory close to Paris, the EIMO is working on system of systems engineering design (ISDS) activities, on deliberation activities with the LTO (Technical and Operational Laboratory) and on experimental activities on the BOA concept with the TACTIC demonstrator. The TACTIC demonstrations will provide an essential basis for assessing these new systems in a real world context.

(1) BOA : Bulle Opérationnelle Aéroterrestre (Air-land operational digitisation)

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About Thales
Thales is a global technology leader for the Aerospace and Space, Defence, Security and Transportation markets. In 2008, the company generated revenues of 12.7 billion euros with 68,000 employees in 50 countries. With its 25,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security requirements. Thales has an exceptional international footprint, with operations around the world working with customers as local partners.
www.thalesgroup.com

About Nexter Systems
The Nexter Group specialises in a wide range of land-defence systems and provides services from systems design to operational maintenance. Nexter currently has 2,700 employees, with sales of €579 million in 2008. The company invests 16% of its revenue in research and development activities. For the year 2008 Nexter achieved a consolidated operating margin of over 10%. Nexter Systems' main line of products are VBCI Infantry Fighting Vehicle, CAESAR artillery Systems, BONUS SMART ammunition, FINDERS C2 battle management system, customer services.

www.nexter-group.fr

About Sagem (SAFRAN Group)
Sagem is a high-tech company in the Safran group. It is a world or European leader in solutions and services in optronics, avionics, electronics and critical software for the civilian and military markets. Sagem is the European No. 1 and worldwide No.3 in INSs for aeronautic, naval and land applications. It is also the worldwide No.1 in helicopter flight controls and the European No.1 in optronic and tactical UAV systems. Present across the globe via the SAFRAN Group's international network, Sagem and its subsidiaries employ 6000 people in Europe, South East Asia and North America.
www.sagem-ds.com

Thales
Aude Colas des Francs
Thales, Land & Joint Systems
Tel : + 33 (1) 46 13 20 86

e-mail : aude.colasdesfrancs@fr.thalesgroup.com

Nexter
Jérôme Dufour
Nexter Systems
Tel : +33 (0)1 30 97 36 38
e-mail : j.dufour@nexter-group.fr

Sagem
Philippe Wodka-Gallien
Sagem (Safran Group)
Tél : + 33 (1) 58 11 19 49
e-mail : philippe.wodka-gallien@sagem.com