In a bid to enhance the targeting and reconnaissance capabilities of the Rafale fighter jet, the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) has placed an order with Thales for 21 targeting long-range identification optronic systems (TALIOS) pods.
Thales, a French Defense company, announced on May 6 that the new target designation pods would be installed on Rafale aircraft in service with the French Air Force and Navy.
The latest order for 21 additional pods comes after DGA placed an initial order for 46 TALIOS systems, taking the total number of TALIOS systems to 67.
The company stated that the additional pods will be delivered between 2024 and 2025 once the initial deal for 46 TALIOS systems is completed.
Thales Land and Air Systems executive vice-president Christophe Salomon said, “The TALIOS pod’s new reconnaissance modes and automatic target detection and recognition algorithms will provide the French armed forces with an unprecedented level of operational superiority.”
“Rafale pilots will be able to make better decisions with even greater speed at every decisive moment of their missions to detect, classify and safely engage a target and assess the results of a ground or surface strike,” he added.
What Is TALIOS?
While theaters of operations get more sophisticated, pilots’ and commanders’ ability to make timely judgments and obtain a strategic advantage is increasingly dependent on an accurate view of the tactical situation.
A key goal for military forces all around the world is to reduce the time between obtaining intelligence and defeating targets of interest.
In line with this, the company developed the TALIOS system. It is an open-architecture aerial targeting and reconnaissance pod that was first developed in 2008. It can be used to detect, recognize, and identify targets day and night.
The pod has since been upgraded as part of the Rafale F4 standardization effort. The Vision Permanent function, for example, gives a virtual real-time 3D map overlay on an operational environment.
It also contains a new air-to-air identification mode, a new day color sensor with greater range coverage than the original pods’ thermal cameras, and additional tactical air reconnaissance modes.
The system is linked by a top-down datalink, which provides real-time data to ground forces. These features are extremely crucial for fighter aircraft pilots.
The TALIOS pod will allow Rafale F4 standard aircraft to execute both air reconnaissance and ground/surface attack missions in an increasingly linked operating environment. The pod can explore a large area for targets and identify them, then switch to target acquisition and tracking mode rapidly.
Furthermore, the high-resolution sensors provide a color image of the tactical situation, making Rafale pilots’ tasks easier.
Thales has also created a new Vision Permanent mode that superimposes real-time video on a 3D map of the operating environment, allowing aircrews to view and grasp the tactical situation in much less time.
TALIOS will eventually combine artificial intelligence algorithms, according to the company, and provide an unprecedented amount of assistance in target detection and recognition, as well as speed up the decision-making process, particularly in high-intensity encounters.
Rafale F4 Standard
Last year, the UAE agreed to buy 80 Rafale F4 fighter jets from Dassault Aviation of France. The UAE will be the first country after France to operate the Rafale F4 type as a result of the deal.
The Rafale F4 will be equipped with the RBE2 AESA radar, Talios targeting pod, front sector optronics system, and helmet-mounted display. As previously reported by EurAsian Times, the aircraft’s Spectra defensive system has been improved with more powerful jammers to preserve its ability to reject emerging threats.
The Rafale F4 aircraft will also include future improvements to the French SCALP-EG stealthy subsonic cruise missile, ASMP-A nuclear missile with a 300-kiloton yield nuclear warhead, MICA NG air-to-air missile, and a 1000-kg version of the AASM precision-guided bomb.
The revised Rafale’s architecture has been improved to allow for future technology upgrades and modifications as they become available.
The F4 variant will significantly increase the 4.5-generation fighter’s stealth capabilities, which were previously available but fell short of competing with fifth-generation combat aircraft.
Other stealth elements of the fighter jet include S-shaped air intakes, serrated edges, and a channel exhaust cooling system that reduces infrared signature. Like the Super Hornet and Typhoon fighter jets, the Rafale will have a radar cross-section (RCS) of around one square meter due to these abilities.
Dassault’s F4 version was initially ordered when the French military awarded Dassault a contract in 2019. It has already been pitched to numerous clients, including the Indian Air Force.