Bernard Roux Country Director UAE for Thales
Bernard Roux Country Director UAE for Thales

“Human capital is a scarce recourse and TET Thales Emarat Technologies  is committed to investing in it by hiring and training highly skilled local workforce. To attract and retain young national talent, we work closely with educational bodies, colleges and universities. This training model will have a positive knock-on effect on the country’s local talent pool, supporting the future of the UAE economy and sovereignty,” stated Bernard Roux Country Director UAE for Thales in an exclusive interview to Aviation & Defence Universe (ADU) at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

ADU. What are some of the themes that Thales is focusing on at the show?

BR. This year, we are bringing our expertise in air defence & air surveillance systems, drone ecosystem management, sustainable aviation, total airport solutions including facial recognition, as well as cybersecurity in safety-critical environments to the Dubai Air Show.

UAVs have been presenting a tremendous opportunity in both civil and defence domains.  Increased drone usage has led to significant security challenges and a need for protection against unregulated or illegal use. As part of our CUAV solutions, we will showcase Eagleshield Idtect, part of the Eagleshield family, which is an integrated counter-UAV system based on an open and innovative architecture, from detection to neutralisation.
This will be displayed alongside ForceShield, a flexible solution that considers all air threats evolving at low altitude, including the threat of drones, as is able to automatically adapt the responses to the type of threat encountered. RapidFire – a true multirole defense system – will also be presented in the C-UAV area. This solution offers surface-to-air and surface-to-surface capabilities, including the ability to counter micro-UAVs.
Being the leaders in the drone ecosystem, we are displaying our UAV systems, UTM, surveillance, C-UAS, and neutralisation that offers end-to-end solutions based on expertise in air supremacy at all levels of the airspace.
For surveillance and protection of frontline forces, we have on stand the Spy’Ranger mini-UAV system brings front-line units autonomous intelligence gathering and offensive reconnaissance capability, making them much more versatile, better protected and more connected than ever.

A unique proposition from us this year is TopSky UAS Airspace Manager. We have been working with airports, aviation authorities and airlines in meeting the short-term challenges arising from the current context. This technology integrates unmanned aircraft seamlessly into controlled airspace.

You will also be introduced to Thales Emarat Technologies (TET) at the stand – a 100% Thales owned local entity in the UAE. TET will exhibit its capabilities in radars, radio communication technologies and will continue to grow in digital starting with cybersecurity and other digital activities.

ADU. You have an industrial and technological footprint in the UAE with Thales Emarat Technologies. What is the history of that venture, and how important is it for Thales that you are part of the UAE industrial defence ecosystem?

BR. Thales Emarat Technologies was created with the goal of empowering the nation with unique and sovereign technology capabilities in line with the national vision. It is the vector of our strategy in the UAE that combines innovation, industrial transformation and knowledge sharing. To achieve this, we partnered with Tawazun Economic Program, one of the key drivers in the defence and security sector.

Through leveraging Thales’s technological portfolio to benefit the UAE, TET fosters the diversification of the local economy. Our strengths lie in creating critical systems such as radar, radio communications and a variety of defence aerospace technologies. The company enables the localisation of specific maintenance and support operations, improving response time and flexibility in customer care.

Human capital is a scarce recourse and TET Thales Emarat Technologies  is committed to investing in it by hiring and training highly skilled local workforce. To attract and retain young national talent, we work closely with educational bodies, colleges and universities. This training model will have a positive knock-on effect on the country’s local talent pool, supporting the future of the UAE economy and sovereignty. To date we have 100 employees and plan to triple this number in the next three years, creating up to 500 direct and indirect jobs in the local ecosystem.

ADU. What key defence programmes in the UAE and wider region does Thales participate in?

BR. Thales has a strong presence in the market with projects in defence, space, aerospace, transportation, digital identity and security, in addition to digital technologies such as AI and cybersecurity. As a trusted partner embedded in the local ecosystems of the UAE and the region, our key objective is to enable our customers to master critical decisive moments with full operational sovereignty.

In the UAE, our main products include electronic systems for various types of platforms across all domains such as radars, sensors, optronics, radios and communication systems and other innovative embedded electronics, as well as tailor-made solutions for training, services, and integration. We have had some strategic launches over the last few years –  in 2017, Thales launched the Defence Service Centre in Abu Dhabi to support our customers. The centre has a strong focus transfer of knowledge and training. In 2019, in partnership with Tawazun Economic Program, we created Thales Emarat technologies with its CoE in Radio communications systems, Radars, Digital and services

ADU. How do you view the potential of this market?

BR. The Middle East and the UAE in particular is a strategic partner for Thales with some of our flagship projects being in the region. We have 12 offices and close to 2000 employees in the region, and the regional operations play an integral part in intake and revenue, providing high technologies, innovative, and secure solutions to the complete region.  Nations in the Middle East have been committed to the development of the society, and we have observed an increase in demand for innovative solutions across both civil and defense domains. Whether it is airspace, sea-space, critical infrastructure, or data – new technologies and digital transformation are driving demand in the region.

ADU. On the civil side, Thales has been very involved in developing technology around the smarter airport and moves to seamless air travel. Can you tell us something about this and how this could impact the market here in the UAE?

BR. UAE is strategically positioned for business and leisure travel. The first month of the Expo saw over 2 million passengers passing through Dubai Airport. With the pandemic receding and travel levels increasing, our end-to-end capabilities perfectly position Thales to help improve airport operations and the overall passenger experience.We combine our experience in airport security and supervision systems with digital security and biometric solutions, to simultaneously help improve airport operations and create a more seamless passenger experience from check-in to the gate. With contactless operations such e-Gates or “Fly to Gate”, airports can create fast, secure biometric pathways for passengers, eliminating delays and wait times during check-in, bag drop and border controls. The self-service airport experience reduces processing times by 80%. For example: biometric technologies can enable up to a 30% savings in boarding times.

We have been trusted partner to airports, aviation authorities and airlines for over 40 years and have worked with key global and regional airports including those in Dubai, Muscat, Doha and Salalah Airports in Oman and Bahrain, providing airport security and other solutions. By combining our security expertise with our solutions in digital identity and security and particularly biometrics, we provide an even more holistic approach to airport and passenger safety and security