The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has embarked on a modernisation programme with Thales to upgrade 13 Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) and Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) navigation systems. 

This move will enhance the safety, reliability and efficiency of the navigation aids, enabling aircraft to land accurately in challenging weather conditions, thus strengthening national defence capabilities and meeting Nato requirements.

The imperative drives the necessity for this upgrade to maintain operational capabilities in the face of adverse weather conditions. As the existing ILS and DME components end their service life, the contract awarded to Thales will extend their usability to at least 2035. 

The upgrade will encompass replacing components at risk of impacting operational efficiency due to their age.

This renewal initiative is a step to ensure the RNLAF’s continued air operations. Thales will also provide operational maintenance and support for the next 12 years. 

By committing to this endeavour, Thales reinforces its role in meeting the nation’s navigation aid requirements, particularly within the Nato security framework. These solutions comply with mandatory regulations and exceed the RNLAF’s requirements.

Thales’ ILS works in challenging scenarios such as low visibility or adverse weather conditions. It is adaptable for civil and military applications, offering fixed and deployable configurations.

The fixed systems will play a role in ensuring the operation of the RNLAF at Dutch Air bases. The deployable version of the ILS has been used by the US Air Force since 2015, and Thales also provided the ILS for Canadian Air Force bases. 

In tandem with the ILS, DME is another component that aids en-route and approach guidance, providing information about the aircraft’s distance from the relevant ground station. These systems are for safe, mission-critical landings.

Kais Mnif, Navigation and Non-Radar Surveillance Segment general manager at Thales, underlines the significance of this collaboration: “The ILS and DME systems provide precise guidance to aircraft on final approach in low visibility or low ceiling weather conditions, which is essential for airmen to complete their mission safely. 

“With Thales, RNLAF has made the choice of the most advanced ILS and DME technologies available on the market to equip their air bases and to ensure their operational capabilities at all times and in all weather conditions so that they can fulfil their national defence missions in compliance with Nato’s mandate.”

For the Netherlands Army, Thales has provided armoured personnel carriers. According to GlobalData’s The Netherlands Defense Market 2023–2028 report, Thales provided 92 Bushmaster vehicles between 2006 and 2016 and four of the Bushmaster MEDEVAC in 2021.