Thales, Sabena to Upgrade French CN-235 Transport Fleet

France has awarded Thales and Paris-based Sabena technics a contract to modernize the French Air and Space Force’s CN-235 military transport fleet.

Under the agreement, Thales will provide its latest-generation avionics system based on the TopDeck suite used by the ATR 72-600 commercial passenger aircraft.

The capability features a radio altimeter that secures a plane from 5G interference.

Meanwhile, Sabena will perform electrical and mechanical modifications to the avionics before integrating them into the CN-235.

Prototypes of the upgraded CN-235-200 and -300 variants will be completed by 2026. It will be followed by the upgrade of 27 CN-235s through 2031.

“The partnership with Thales is the latest illustration of our ability to work together efficiently and make the most of our complementary areas of expertise,” Sabena technics Chairman Philippe Rochet said.

“This contract consolidates the major role that Sabena technics is playing on the CN-235 programme by combining this major modification with our work as prime contractor for through-life support.”

CN-235 Life-Extension 

The program supports the government’s efforts to enhance its CN-235’s navigation performance and extend the fleet’s operability through 2040, according to the French defense procurement agency (DGA).

Work for the contract will apply “Single European Sky” standards, enabling the French military to navigate into neutral airspaces without mission restrictions.

“Thanks to close cooperation between the DGA, Air and Space Force, Sabena technics, and Thales teams, the upgrade of the CN-235 avionics will give French forces a new technological edge,” Thales Avionics Vice President Yannick Assouad stated.

“The enhanced capabilities, higher fleet availability and a lifetime extension beyond 2040 will bring real operational benefits to the French armed forces.”

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