February 22, 2012

French Army's FÉLIN digitized soldier system participates in a Franco-British live exercise

News Report

As announced by French Army and then reported by Defence-Aerospace, soldiers of the French 8th Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment (8th RPIMa) and soldiers of the UK 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland took part on Feb. 13-17 in a bilateral Franco-British Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX). During the event, French soldiers operated the new digitized soldier system Fantassin à Équipements et Liaisons Intégrées (FÉLIN). The system was tested under tactical conditions intended to closely reproduce those normally encountered on theaters of operation on which the French army is likely to be deployed.

The Technology

Sagem's FÉLIN (Fantassin à Équipements et Liaisons Intégrées) is an integrated soldier system designed to enhance all the dismounted soldier’s operational functions: protection, observation, C4I, weapons use, mobility and support. The system is customized into five configurations for different levels of command, with the standard configuration including a portable computer, a voice and data radio, new combat clothing with body armour and a new ballistic helmet.

The individual soldier system is equipped with a radio and a GPS. The system exploits a dedicated voice and data network that connects the individual soldier to other infantrymen in the section and to the section commander, who is connected to the vehicle battle management system (Sagem's SITEL). FÉLIN's tactical radio is the "VHF-over-IP"  PR4G VS4 from Thales, which provides tactical internet connectivity and links the dismounted soldier to the vehicle's SITEL.

FÉLIN is one of the most studied soldier systems to date, in terms of integration. The French DGA (Délégation Générale pour L'Armement), Sagem and the French Army have worked to create something very close to the needs of the soldier in terms of ergonomics, integration and understanding the battlefield mission. Specifically, the DGA provided a target weight for the system of less than 25kg, to include the entire system, weapons, ammunitions, and 24-hour energy, food and water provisions. Effort was also directed to the selection of the energy supplies and the method of recharging batteries.

The Context

In 1996, the French French Ministry of Defence Procurement Agency (DGA, Délégation Générale pour L'Armement), placed a contract on an industrial team led by Thales for the development of a dismounted combatant equipment technology demonstrator (équipement du combattant débarqué) or FÉLIN. The system was tested over a two-year period from 1999 and 2001, when the DGA invited Sagem and an industrial team of Giat and Thales to carry out FÉLIN definition studies. The DGA selected Sagem as the preferred bidder in 2003 and awarded the FÉLIN V1 (version 1) contract in March 2004.

References: French Army (1), Defence-Aerospace (2), Defence-Talk (3), Army-Technology (4)

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