Airbus Defence and Space and Thales to produce new digital maps for French defence

  • The French National Institute of Geographic and Forestry Information (IGN) has awarded the Thales-Airbus Defence and Space consortium the GeoMaps contract for the next six years
  • French armed forces will get high added-value geographical data that will give them the upper hand in missions in theatres of operations

The IGN has awarded Airbus Defence and Space and Thales the so-called GeoMaps contract to supply the French Ministry of Defence database with digital geographic data on a range of scales, including city maps. They will mainly be based on images acquired by the two Pléiades satellites, significantly increasing the accuracy of the maps to be produced. This contract runs from 2016 to 2021 and guarantees the consistent geometry and formatting of all reference mapping data to optimise interoperability between the French Ministry of Defence’s different systems and services, as well as with their allies and partners.

Satellite Image Pléiades, Tripoli, Libya, 2014

Tripoli, Libya

The IGN, acting for the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, has thus renewed its confidence in this consortium founded more than a decade ago to create TopoBase Défense, which GeoMaps now supersedes. It is one of the main building blocks of the GEODE 4D program - the four-dimensional defence data (geographical, hydrographic, oceanographic and meteorological) - which integrates all the systems required to keep the French armed forces sufficiently informed of the nature and characteristics of the theatre concerned. In the future, the GeoMaps data will be managed by the GEODE 4D program and disseminated to all the defense systems and in all theaters of operations.

The French Military Staff will be capable of generating highly value-added data to meet the challenges that defence forces now face: to recall the latest multi-scale geographical data (from national to urban level) and to keep it highly precise and updated regularly to ensure that the information is accurate. The areas to be produced will be defined according to the respective needs of the armed forces.

The Thales-Airbus Defence and Space consortium will handle the whole process: from analysing what the Military Staff need, through running quality control checks on the products supplied. This also includes managing specifications, defining the production framework (procedures, tools, controls) and is based on a large network of SMEs to ensure that all of the data is consistent and homogeneous.

“We are very proud of the confidence that has been shown in our consortium.. It really recognises our teams’ expertise and the know-how of the French SMEs we rely on. The accuracy of the data we provide is vital if the operations which French armed forces are involved in and the fight against terrorism in particular will succeed,” said Bernhard Brenner, Head of Intelligence Business Cluster at Airbus Defence and Space.

“Thales is a trusted partner to the military and security industry. With GeoMaps, the consortium stands behind them, with support in theatres of operations, providing them with high added-value data to meet their varying operational constraints and conducting operations with intelligence systems. In an age of asymmetrical conflicts, being able to rely on highly precise geographical data gives them a real technical advantage on the ground,” said Jean-Michel Lagarde, Deputy General Manager, Secure communications and Information Systems.

About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space, a division of Airbus Group, is Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise and the second largest space business worldwide. Its activities include space, military aircraft and related systems and services. It employs more than 38,000 people and in 2015 generated revenues of over 13 billion Euros.


Fabienne GRAZZINI + 33 5 62 19 41 19

Airbus Defence and Space and Thales to produce new digital maps for French defence