- Thales’s Châtellerault-La Brelandière site in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France is diversifying its operations and has opened a new centre of excellence for maintenance and support of airborne optronics equipment.
- About 70 trained maintenance and support specialists have been working at the dedicated 4,000 sq.m. facility since the start of 2022, and the Group plans to expand the workforce by more than 50 people by 2030.
- Supported by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine regional council, this centre of excellence is at the heart of the regional economy and is working to promote the local industrial ecosystem and drive its future development.
As part of a broader effort to revitalise local industry, Thales is building on its long-standing presence in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France by opening a new centre of excellence specialising in maintenance and support of airborne optronics equipment. By combining the wide-ranging skills of its specialists with the disruptive techniques employed by the new facility, Thales is providing an effective response to the need to improve the availability of strategic military equipment and ensure the success of armed forces missions.
Thales’s Châtellerault-La Brelandière site has traditionally manufactured ring laser gyro (RLG) inertial navigation systems for civil and military avionics equipment. Its activities have been impacted by the crisis in the aerospace sector, and the site has therefore had to diversify and make the skills of its employees available to other customers. The electronics sector has long been a central feature of France’s industrial landscape and has come to play a strategic role in guaranteeing the country's national sovereignty. To provide advanced technical support for its high-tech products, Thales has made significant investments, alongside the Nouvelle-Aquitaine regional council, to develop a new 4,000 sq.m. technical and logistics infrastructure at the Châtellerault-La Brelandière site. The installations include 750 sq.m. of cleanroom space and about 100 latest-generation test benches.
Two support lines dedicated to optronics equipment for combat aircraft have been brought into operation In under 12 months. One line covers all support operations for the TALIOS pod[i], while the other is dedicated to supporting the OSF front-sector optronics system and the DAL laser warning receiver.
Seventy technicians, engineers and technical experts are now providing customers with specialised know-how in electronics, mechanics, optics and data analytics. The site's logistic support capabilities ensure smooth and efficient workflows to guarantee the highest level of equipment availability for customers. The staff working at the new support facility received training at Thales’s optronics and missile electronics campus at Élancourt, near Paris, to acquire new skills and add a new dimension to their careers. This large-scale project has provided an opportunity for these 70 employees — some from Élancourt, others from Châtellerault, plus a number of new recruits — to make a tangible contribution to the effort to ramp up maintenance capabilities for tomorrow's operational missions.
The electronics sector is driven by innovation and has significant potential for growth, development and job creation. Working with the regional council and local institutions, Thales is helping to promote cohesion within the electronics ecosystem in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, improve its resilience by focusing new developments on the electronics of the future, anticipate skills requirements, master the key technologies required to support innovation and industrial activity and enhance the attractiveness of jobs in this sector. To meet customer needs, Thales intends to hire more than 50 new employees at the facility between now and 2030, helping to make electronics a local sector of excellence and raising the region’s profile in the technology industry.
“Thales is consistently stepping up to the challenges created by the digital revolution, and the new Châtellerault-La Brelandière centre of excellence for airborne optronics support is a prime example. Working with the Nouvelle-Aquitaine regional authorities, we are applying our unique know-how in microelectronics to provide an unprecedented level of industrial support for the armed forces, meet the needs of our customers more effectively and contribute to the success of their operational missions. We are pleased to have this opportunity to help our people acquire new skills and we are proud to be supporting job creation in the Châtellerault area.” Benoît Plantier, Vice President, Optronics and Missile Electronics, Thales.
[i] TArgeting Long-range Identification Optronics System.: