Denis VIDEAU is Head of ACCS programme testing at Thales Raytheon Systems. He explains what are the issues of the Defence and Security sector and looks back on his relationship with ALTEN.
The commissioning of NATO’s new air defence system is the culmination of 14 years of development and testing.
“ Thales Raytheon Systems, the joint venture between French company Thales and US company Raytheon, was formed to manage and implement the ACCS programme. The aim of this programme is to replace the national air defence systems of NATO’s European member countries with a single, efficient and interoperable system capable of exchanging information in real time and providing air command and control in each territory. A common core has been developed at NATO’s request, while specific versions are implemented in each country.
The project was launched in 2000. The system will be put into service in Italy and Germany in a few months, followed by France and Belgium in 2015. These four countries are the pilots for the programme, which will be rolled out in 2015 to ten other countries under replication agreements. In the short term, the aim is for the operational launch to be successful. In the longer term, the challenges for Thales Raytheon Systems are manifold: to harness this momentum to improve products and carry out operational maintenance; to take into account NATO’s strategic direction and future development; to adapt the ACCS product to meet the needs of other organisations around the world. This programme is fully integrated into the air defence system chain of command: detection, data processing, operations, mission control, response to the ballistic missile threat, logistical support including the human factor. It helps to protect European airspace over an area of more than 10 million square kilometres.
This complex software consists of 14 million lines of code, the test phases of which are fundamental to demonstrate its robustness. These consist of domain tests, real-time and non-real-time software, factory system tests and operational configuration at the different NATO or national validation sites. Thales Raytheon Systems designs and approves testing strategies and supervises and executes them for customers.
In 2013, 11 contractual milestone tests were conducted successfully. Extensive cultural adaptation is required when engaging in dialogue with customers, for example NATO for the core programme and sovereign nations for country versions.”
Working with ALTEN
“ In order to meet deadlines, I must be able to rely on responsive partners who can listen to a brief and then swiftly assemble the expertise I need. Because the software is so complex, training takes a long time. ALTEN has shown that it can be proactive and forward-looking. The Group fully understood my needs, while its international footprint means that it has mobile, multicultural project teams with a strong command of English. This is a long-standing partnership and I am 100% satisfied with the dynamic. ALTEN is now one of our preferred partners.”