France's defence budget is one of the biggest in the world and the country's military capabilities have a huge geopolitical significance.Military leaders recognised that it would be easier to control operations if army, navy and air force decision-makers were all under the same roof. Moving to a single state-of-the-art complex would enhance coordination and drive synergies in operational command.Thales's know how was decisive in the creation of Hexagone Balard.

 

The French armed forces are active in 12 theatres of operation in Africa, the Middle East and beyond. In addition, thousands of troops have been deployed on French soil since the current wave of terror attacks began.

Coordinating all of this is a huge challenge. Until recently, the French defence ministry had a dozen different sites scattered around Paris. Different parts of the defence establishment were housed in premises dating back to the era before computers, when classified documents were delivered by despatch riders on motorcycles.

Military leaders recognised that it would be easier to control operations if army, navy and air force decision-makers were all under the same roof. Moving to a single state-of-the-art complex would enhance coordination and drive synergies in operational command.

The huge Hexagone Balard[1] project was conceived to meet these needs. As the command centre of French military operations, Hexagone Balard would play a crucial role in the decisive moments of thousands of soldiers engaged in operations across the globe, helping to keep them safe and protecting national interests while assuring France's influence on the world stage.

Thales’s know how was decisive in the creation of Hexagone Balard. Combining a unique diversity of expertise and talents, Thales’ system architects designed and delivered the all-important ICT infrastructure for the new HQ.

The solution offers unparalleled levels of security and integrates with the defence ministry’s other networks to guarantee information superiority for the French armed forces.

To ensure the highest levels of resilience, Thales tapped into its expertise in defence engineering – a critical capability that comes from decades of experience in the field serving armed forces and government organisations around the world.

Everything is underpinned by the company’s “Design to Risk” philosophy. Resilience is built-in from the ground up. Thales’s approach embraces not only cybersecurity, but also the design of the building itself. To achieve this, Thales’s experts worked hand-in-hand with the architects and civil works contractors from day one.

All project milestones were met on time. Thanks to Thales, the core of Hexagone Balard was delivered in just 18 months while defence ministry operations continued as normal – a huge achievement, considering that the move involved relocating 10,000 people from 12 different sites.

Hexagone Balard is now fully operational. Staff rely on transparent, flexible and secure datacentres, and benefit from state-of-the-art ICT services including unified communications and collaboration tools – all provided by Thales.

The story doesn’t end there. Under a long-term public-private partnership, Thales will operate and maintain systems at Hexagone Balard for a further 27 years – ensuring that France’s armed forces benefit from the best technology and the highest levels of security for years to come.

 

[1] ‘Hexagone’ is a reference to the shape of mainland France and also to the shape of the building’s core; ‘Balard’ is the district of Paris in which the complex is based.