Part of the major French participation at IDEX is the EDEN cluster (Stand 07-B53), an organisation that incorporates 130 French SMEs in the defence sector. Nine of those companies are exhibiting in Abu Dhabi as part of the cluster’s display.
Formed in 2008 by six business owners in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, the EDEN (European Defense Economic Network) cluster brings together SMEs from across France to explore synergies and to pool expertise and technologies so that made-to-measure solutions can be created at competitive prices. The group employs around 9,000 people and has a combined turnover of around a billion euros. More than half of that is generated by exports.
EDEN’s companies are grouped into four complementary sectors: detection, protection and surveillance; engineering and testing; aircraft, ship and vehicle equipment; and personal protection.
SMEs that have recently joined the group have also brought expertise in cyber security and aeronautics.
A well-known EDEN company exhibiting at IDEX is Metravib, an expert in acoustic gunshot detection systems. Its products have been sold to 20 countries, including 12 in NATO, and its PILAR system has been incorporated into the French army’s Griffon and Jaguar vehicles as part of the Scorpion programme. EDEN member IRTS also has a part in the Griffon and Jaguar vehicle programmes, having been selected by Nexter, Sagem and Thales to equip the vehicles with gun computers and ultra-rugged displays.
Another SME providing equipment for military vehicles is Elno, which develops communication systems for operation in severe environments.
Being shown at IDEX are the Hoplite armoured vehicle headset and ELIPS IP digital intercom for military vehicles. Other communications products on show include the P2C personal communications controller, Tetrapol bone conduction headset for use in very noisy environments, and the HPH700 helicopter flight helmet.
From the aircraft equipment sector comes Aeronet, which specialises in a range of air transport solutions such as pallets, restraining nets, straps and fittings. The company is the main supplier to the French army of helicopter roping systems.
Another EDEN member exhibiting is Nicomatic, which produces a range of innovative and specialised connectors and man-machine interface switching.
Two of EDEN’s exhibitors at IDEX are from the personal protection sector. Ouvry develops new-generation personal protective equipment for use against CBRNe threats, including both body and respiratory protection.
The company also provides decontamination equipment, such as the DEC’POL emergency mitt that provides protection and neutralisation capabilities against chemical and biological agents.
Ouvry is providing more than 22,000 CBRN sets as part of the French army’s FELIN future soldier programme, and 20,000 sets for employment by civil defence, law enforcement and emergency medical services agencies. Here at IDEX the company is displaying its OPPS pilot protective system, which provides both above- and below-the-neck protection for fighter pilots. The system has been flight approved for Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighters.
Bollé Protection also manufactures personal protection equipment, including the Gunfire ballistic spectacles. These come with optional clear or CSP lenses, the latter featuring an innovative coating that provides for activities in alternating low light/ bright light situations, and in extremes of temperature.
The Gunfire spectacles also feature the Platinum anti-scratch and anti-fogging coating.
Textile specialist Solarmtex is part of the EDEN display. This SME has been active for more than 25 years with a wide range of textile products, including specific designs of bags and cases for particular purposes, such as technical bags for special forces.
The company also provides ‘soft shielding’ for equipment such as radios, as well as multi-layer insulation for vehicle, electronics and weapon systems applications.
From the training world comes VSM (Visualisation Simulation Modelisation), which has more than two decades’ experience of creating aircraft and helicopter simulators.
Since January 2014 VSM has operated a training centre at Istres in the south of France. Part of the facility includes ESTHEL (emergency and shooting trainer for helicopters), which combines the training of both hoist operators and pilots in SAR operations with door gunner activities.
The SAGOD (safety go-down) simulator is a transportable system that provides training for personnel in the rescue environment who need to be hoisted, such as rescuers, emergency doctors and search teams, including dogs. In April this year VSM is to open an aquatic centre to allow the training of winching from water from up to 6 metres height.
VSM’s services and simulators have been used for many years by the Dutch and Kuwaiti air forces, while the French navy has taken out a multi-year contract. The French air force is also evaluating the service, while the Royal Saudi Air Force and Police have also used the facility.