A consortium comprising Thales and Sabena Technics has been awarded a contract for the modernisation of the French Air and Space Force’s CN-235 multi-mission tactical transport fleet.

The consortium was notified last month by the French Defence Procurement Agency (Direction générale de l’armement – DGA).  

According to DGA, the contract includes the development, qualification and certification of CN235 avionics modification, with the delivery of one prototype for each aircraft variant slated by the end of 2026.

The CN-235 fleet includes 19 CN235-200 and eight CN235-300 transport aircraft. The avionics modification of all 27 aircraft will take place between 2026 and 2031.

The effort is being executed to replace the existing avionics of the aircraft with new advanced avionics that can support the fleet until 2040. It will also improve the navigation capabilities of the aircraft.

The avionics will be in compliance with the Single European Sky standards, allowing the French forces to integrate into non-segregated airspace without any restrictions to quickly perform their missions.

Thales Avionics executive vice-president Yannick Assouad said: “The enhanced capabilities, higher fleet availability and a lifetime extension beyond 2040 will bring real operational benefits to the French armed forces.”

As consortium lead, Sabena Technics will provide mechanical and electrical upgrades to the aircraft, along with the integration of avionics equipment.

Thales will be responsible for delivering the aircraft’s inertial navigation system, TopStarC GPS receiver, as well as latest-generation avionics.

The upgraded CN-235 fleet will also further include Thales’ advanced radio altimeter, a system that can escape 5G interference for ensuring safe navigation.

Work will be carried out at Thales’ facilities in Bordeaux, Toulouse, Brive, Valence, Vendôme and Châtellerault while Sabena Technics will perform the associated work at its Dinard site.