FELIN system operational in French Army in September
Starting in 2011, four regiments per year will be equipped. This marks a crucial step of a major program, for which France's defense procurement agency, the DGA, awarded Sagem (Safran Group) prime contractorship following competition bidding. Before this date, on May 27, Sagem delivered the first 90 systems to the Infantry School's FELIN training center. These will be used for initial training of the army's instructors.
The successful technical/operational evaluation
FELIN (Fantassin à Equipements et Liaisons Intégrés) is an integrated soldier system designed to enhance all the dismounted soldier's operational functions: protection, observation, C4I (command, control, computers, communications and intelligence), weapons use, mobility and support. The 2009 technical/operational evaluation, which was a success, was the program's most critical stage. It consisted of rigorous testing of the system. 358 FELIN units were tested by four regiments – battle-hardened units who have all seen combat in Afghanistan. Their mission was to test the system in the most demanding environments: mountains, jungles, deserts, when parachuting and in urban combat.
All the weapons were used: the Famas, FRF2 precision rifle and Minimi. Following this campaign, 190 modifications were carried out to offer an infantry system that meets operational needs to a dismounted soldier. As Colonel Laurent Barraco, the DGA program director, explains, "The DGA, French Army and Sagem's obsession was the ergonomics when handling matériel and software. In terms of performance, "The FAMAS rifle has a firing range enhanced from 300m to 500m during the day and from 150m to 400m at night. We put a section equipped with FELIN in face-to-face simulated combat, by day and by night, with another outfitted with today's equipment: there's no comparison," explains Colonel Rey, head of the French Army's FELIN program in its Technical Section.
As Sagem points out, thanks to its modularity and its equipment's performance, the FELIN soldier modernization system is a coherent technological and operational resource that can meet the specific needs of other armies, whether it's their organization or weapons. Several modernization programs are already in progress : FIST (UK), IMESS (Switzerland), IDZ (Germany) and Land Warrior (USA).
There is a dynamic demonstration of FELIN at Safran's stand at Eurosatory (Hall 6 stand E 81)