Thales strengthens its training and simulation capabilities with RUAG
As Thales integrates RUAG Simulation & Training teams, Peter Hitchcock, Vice-President in charge of the Training & Simulation business line, reflects on what this means for the Group’s capabilities.
How do you feel as Thales completes the acquisition of RUAG S&T?
This is a key milestone for everybody involved! We’re excited by what the future holds for us and are very much looking forward to working on building it together as “One Force”.
As we enter this new era, can you provide a thumbnail description of what the Training & Simulation scope covers at Thales?
The three main areas in which we are active are the development and support of simulators for military air, land and naval markets; the development and operation of civil helicopter simulators; and the provision of operational training services to armed forces.
Where do Thales’s strengths lie?
The first is our ability to support our customers whatever it takes! This was particularly striking throughout the Covid crisis: our engineers and instructors, our products and systems all continued to deliver, and no training days were lost. Then there is our ability to couple technical expertise with operational knowledge. For instance, we’re currently delivering complex rear crew mission trainers for the French Navy (Atlantique 2) and Royal Navy (Crowsnest), drawing on not just our simulation expertise but also the mission expertise we have in the Group.
At a time when there is an increased demand for national sovereignty, being able to capitalize on Thales’s global footprint is key, whether through local units or joint ventures. We were recently awarded a Training contract in Poland, a success which can be attributed to the local presence of Thales in Poland. Finally, the scale of the Group enables us to be attractive to external partners and means we are able to talk with industry leaders in areas such as graphics and in Artificial Intelligence.
What are the key technological drivers in the Training & Simulation business?
A major trend is the increasing crossover of immersive gaming technologies to the professional environment, including progress in graphics and a reduction in the cost of hardware. Importantly, gaming technologies have brought massive multi-player environments where people can team up over huge distances to work collectively. Take the operational environments of our customers: individuals rarely work in isolation; they rely on team members, coalition assets, remote sensors as well as open source information. Therefore, training needs to be able to match that. So we are incorporating gaming-style building blocks in our systems and moving towards secure “training in the cloud” concepts that the next generation of users will come to expect.
What does the acquisition of RUAG Simulation & Training bring to Thales?
RUAG S&T is a major player in live training, covering everything from prime contractor responsibilities to the individual sensors used as well as delivering the services at combat training centres. They also have an excellent land simulation product lines. By combining our expertise, we can accelerate the development of live and constructive training, to create the best possible training environments.
This is timely because many armies are going through force modernization programmes. They are introducing a step change in capabilities which also requires them to transform how they train on new equipment, vehicles, and C4I (Command, Control Communications, Computer, Intelligence) systems to obtain even more insight, higher levels of performance and also addressing cost and environmental constraints through merged live and virtual systems.
That is why the CERBERE programme, on which we teamed with RUAG S&T, was introduced alongside the deployment of France’s Scorpion programme.
The capabilities offered by RUAG S&T in Switzerland, France, Germany, and the UAE will create opportunities with new and existing customers, and with the support of Thales’s global network we have ambitious objectives which we can share with local partners.
How would you sum up what this move represents?
Thales and RUAG S&T are very complementary with little or no overlap. The partnership is coherent and the logic is clear: RUAG S&T are “live” specialists whereas Thales background is primarily in “virtual” technologies. Coming together brings mutual reinforcement, greater critical mass and allows us to accelerate the convergence of technologies to build the next generation of Hybrid Live, Virtual and Constructive Training Solutions.*