Whether navigating blue waters or in a field carrying out special operations, a TACtical Air Navigation “TACAN” is a critical system for mission success. It is the beacon and antenna that provide air assets with the precise location of the vessel or forces they are supporting. Without such beacon, a ship out sea is but a needle in a haystack, and armed forces, expeditionary forces on the ground may well never receive on time the support they requested.
Understanding the criticality of such air navigation system, Thales acquired part of Moog, a Salt Lake City engineering company, to expand its TACAN portfolio. Now covering the ground fixed, mobile / deployable, Man Portable “MP” and naval market segments, Thales is in a unique position to offer innovative systems that are rigorously tested and field proven to armed forces as well as airports which need supplemental navaid capability in times of outage, repair or restoration around the world.
Covering all the bases
With over 50 years of experience providing innovative and unique TACAN systems to armed forces worldwide, Moog’s TACAN business had successfully established itself as a leader on several market segments. Most notably, the reliability, ruggedness and deployable Man Portable and shipboard versions remain unmatched.
“Acquiring Moog’s TACAN branch when it went up for sale in December 2021 has allowed us to present our customers with a strengthened, more diverse portfolio to fit all their needs,” says Massimiliano Ferla, Product Line Manager at Thales. While Thales can now offer unmatched Naval and MP TACAN systems, the newly acquired branch benefits from Thales’ strong market position and innovative technologies. “This acquisition is a great fit for the former Moog TACAN teams,” adds George Weida, technical director for navigation aids solutions at Thales.
Full digital immersion
Key innovative features of Thales’ new full line of TACAN offers – ground fixed, mobile / deployable, man-portable and naval – are their digitalisation, miniaturization and compliancy. Offering new navigation capacities to operators such as security features, full remote capabilities, it provides greater safety and flexibility for both control and maintenance of the system.
Providing the expeditionary armed forces a very lightweight man portable systems, they are now capable of sustain aviation assets in a multiple geographically separated and environmentally diverse regions, they benefit of a fast deployment in a secure mode and can easily remotely operate their TACAN to make any modification necessary to ensure mission success. “Digitalisation allows operators to remotely change system parameters to fit their mission’ needs,” Massimiliano Ferla explains. For instance, operators can adjust power settings according to mission requirements without having to switch hardware.
The naval version is certified for marine environments and features environmental certifications for naval shock, vibration and temperature. Relying on a large installed base, Thales captures the main advantages of this naval solution with a modular design, a miniaturized format reducing production costs while relying on the latest generation of technological components.
Additionally, the new remote interface is cyber-secured and replicates exactly the system’s front panel interface. “This allows operators to have instant, complete oversight of the system’s functioning status,” adds George Weida. The introduction of Health Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) complements this capability in order to facilitate predictive maintenance, thus reducing Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) and maintenance-related travel needs - and costs for MoD.
Less is more
Ultimately, through this acquisition, Thales seeks to consolidate its military and civil offer by leveraging a huge expertise, technical innovations and increasing commonality where needed. Over the medium term, Thales will develop all four TACAN market segments into an integrated and secured platform. This architecture will present customers with the added benefit of common modules, spares and maintenance activities.
“The aim is not only that of facilitating our customers’ rationalisation of their network to support performance-based navigation,” Massimiliano Ferla concludes. “Through increased commonality and increased remote capabilities across our TACAN portfolio, we contribute to reduce our customers’ total costs of ownership as well as the environmental footprint of our businesses.”