Lacroix supplies major navies worldwide with its SYLENA decoy launching system. In the Middle East, SYLENA customers include the Egyptian Gowind-class corvettes, the Royal Saudi Naval Forces Avante 2200 corvettes and the Royal Omani Navy’s Al Ofouq-class OPVs. But the main customer in the region is by far the Qatar Emiri Navy, which is set to equip its entire fleet of surface combatants with the SYLENA family of DLS.
Naval News took the opportunity of DIMDEX, the large defense exhibition held last month in Doha, to find out more with Renaud Thétiot, Lacroix’s Director Marketing and Sales.
Naval News – You will soon equip the entire fleet of Qatar Emiri vessels with SYLENA systems. Both for modernization program of in-service ships as well as the future vessels built by Fincantieri. Can you explain to us which systems will be fitted on which class of Qatari ships ?
Renaud Thétiot: The Qatari fleet is equipped with all our systems from the LW to the Mk2.The Barzan class is equipped with Sylena LW on retrofit. On the new classes of ships provided by Leonardo/Fincantieri, MK1 has been selected on corvettes and OPVs and MK2 on the LPD.
Naval News – The SYLENA is becoming a reference DLS in the Middle East region and particularly in Qatar. What are the reasons in your opinion?
Renaud Thétiot: First of all it is linked to the unique performance of Lacroix Seaclad decoy family and mainly to the corner reflector technology developed with French DGA support. It is a game changer when it comes to “soft kill” protection since older technology based on chaff is nowadays completely obsolete.
But one of the key reason is that we listen our customers and designed a family of fixed launcher that is easy to install, easy to maintain, easy to reload at sea without scarifying the performances. Compared to trainable launchers on the market the maintenance costs are low and availability is maximum.
Our team is also able to study closely with our customers any retrofit project as we have done for the BARZAN class during which we were able to demonstrate our adaptability and responsiveness.
Naval News – Regarding Lacroix’s decoys (ammunition), what is your key technical advantage over the competition?
Renaud Thétiot: Before delving in the technical advantages of Lacroix’s decoys, it is important to underscore that our historical expertise of more than 170 years is an indicator of the critical importance placed on developing cutting-edge technologies to remain in the never-ending endeavor between countermeasure (CM) vs counter-counter-measure (CCM).
Lacroix’s CNR decoys (SEALEM) are closing the technology gap between old Chaff solutions and the increasing CCM capabilities of Radio Frequency (RF) guided missiles. A notable breakthrough in the domain of CCMs in Anti-Ship Missiles (ASM) are millimetric wave seekers. To be able to decoy a millimetric wave seeker operating in Ka-band or above it is necessary to cut chaff to the required length in order to be tuned with the wavelength of the radar which is a real technological challenge due to the small size. CNR decoys on the other hand are broadband and are therefore effective in I, J and all the way up to K band.
In the same vein, CNR decoys have an equal polarization ratio contrary to chaff. Indeed, Chaff dipoles tend to fall horizontally which can easily be discriminated by a vertically polarized antenna.
Lacroix combines salvos of CNR decoys with IR decoys. Lacroix’s IR decoy technology (SEALIR) relies on three core elements. First, SEALIR has an IR spectrum similar to a ship, which makes it effective against bi-colour seekers. Second, SEALIR technology offers long lasting effects with a single payload per engagement consistent with the increasing duration requirement to avoid discrimination based on strong level/time fluctuations due to firing renewal. Third, SEALIR is a morphologic funnel-like decoy capable of replicating the main signature contributors (exhaust & funnel) effective against IIR seekers.
Naval News – Lacroix launched a new catalogue of services during Euronaval in October 2020. 18 months later, do you have customers for this new service offer?
Renaud Thétiot: Unfortunately, pandemic did not facilitate the promotion of this new catalogue of services. So far, we are still working with our customers to tailor our services to their needs. Our main concern is to ensure a continuous improvement of their knowledge through our training portfolio and to ensure maximum availability of our equipment through our in-service support offer. Discussions started with our different customers and we can be now very optimistic on different projects. Our ammunition management is clearly something new and arouses the interest of our customers since we respond effectively to their budget and storage constraints.
We hope Euronaval 2022 will give us the opportunity to communicate good news regarding this offer and its deployment.