This year, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding.
It was on 4 April 1949 that the treaty was signed, effectively establishing the North Atlantic Council, the principal political decision-making body of NATO. As the Cold War gripped the world, the Alliance was initially formed as a system of collective defence to ensure security in Western Europe.
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War in 1991, NATO has expanded and regularly adapted its doctrine, assets and organisation to keep pace with new crises and threats, including regional conflicts, growing international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Since 2002, NATO has been developing closer ties with the European Union. In particular, the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) enables the EU to benefit from the Alliance’s capabilities and assets for certain operations covered by its Common Security and Defence Policy.
Today, NATO has 29 member states. The last to join was Montenegro in 2017. The current Secretary General of NATO is Norwegian politician Jens Stoltenberg.
NATO headquarters was initially based in London, then moved to Paris and was transferred to Brussels in 1966. NATO has two main command structures:
Allied Command Operations (ACO), initially headquartered in Rocquencourt, France, and now in Mons, Belgium.
Allied Command Transformation (ACT), based in Norfolk, Virginia.
Thales and NATO: a long-standing relationship
Thales has worked closely with the Alliance since the early 1950s, when we delivered the COTAL surveillance and fire control radar for heavy artillery, first supplied to the French Army.
In remote theatres of operations like Afghanistan, NATO relies on Thales experts to install and operate secure, high-availability communication networks.
ThalesRaytheonSystems, the joint venture with Raytheon, was set up to provide NATO with a single, integrated Air Command and Control System (ACCS) to manage NATO air operations within and beyond the Euro-Atlantic area.
“Thales is now a major NATO partner,” says Marc Cathelineau, in charge of relations with NATO for Thales. “We provide the Alliance and its member states and partner nations with communication, surveillance and command-and-control systems that contribute to peace and stability in Europe and neighbouring countries, helping to drive the economic development and prosperity that benefits all European citizens. Thales is continuing to invest with its partners to support NATO in its actions and transformation.”
The proliferation of ballistic missiles poses an increasing threat to NATO populations, territories and forces. For Western leaders, the capability to defend NATO European populations and territories against ballistic missile attack is a key element of collective defence. Ballistic missile defence (BMD) is part of NATO’s response to this threat and the Alliance’s core task of collective defence.
One of NATO's borders has been protected from ballistic missile threats since 2012 by the ACCS system. In 2018, ThalesRaytheonSystems signed a partnership agreement with Lockheed Martin to extend this protection to all NATO member states.
“Thales’s partnership with Lockheed Martin not only strengthens our transatlantic team but also helps us deliver new capabilities that will enhance the protection of NATO’s populations, territories and forces against the growing threat posed by ballistic missiles,” says Thomas Got, Vice President in charge of Thales’s air operations and weapons system business.
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