French defense and technology firms Thales and Syrlinks have been awarded a contract to develop a next-generation atomic clock for the country’s armed forces.
Awarded by the French defence procurement agency, the multi-year agreement will see the two companies collaborating on quantum clocks that enable defense-related electronics equipment to operate in GPS-denied environments.
The project also seeks to protect France’s technological sovereignty and support encrypted military communications.
According to Thales, the small, high-performance clocks will provide increased security to the French military, with a timekeeping error of “less than one second in tens of thousands of years.”
A Back-Up System
Thales explained that many countries rely on satellite synchronization to ensure their independence and protect their national interests from various threats.
The most technologically advanced nations have Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as Galileo.
However, the GNSS technology that helps provide precise time reference and accurate positioning to the military may fail if signals become unavailable.
The company explained that a reliable backup system like an atomic clock is necessary to ensure that military infrastructure can continue to operate even if signals are jammed or unavailable.
Thales will manufacture the atomic and optical core of the quantum clocks at its industrial facility in Palaiseau, while Syrlinks will develop the electronic brain of the clock to ensure precise timing.