France declares IOC of Talios pod on Rafale F3-R

The French Air and Space Force declared initial operational capability (IOC) of the Talios laser designation pod on the Dassault Rafale F3-R multi-role fighter on October 29.

Talios – otherwise known as the Targeting Long-Range Identification Optronic System – is a new generation laser designation pod that is produced by France-based defence manufacturer, Thales. It is an evolution of the firm’s Damocles targeting pod and can detect, identify and engage ground targets with a high degree of precision. The air force is gradually equipping all of its Dassault Rafale squadrons with the new pod, which will be actively employed in ongoing combat operations.

Rafale Talios [Thales]
A Dassault Rafale in flight. Note that the multi-role fighter is equipped with Thales' new generation laser designation pod, Talios, under its starboard engine intake. Thales

The French Air and Space Force said: “Talios is perfectly suited to the current foreign operations such as [Operation] Chammal in the Levant and [Operation] Barkhane in the Sahelo-Saharan strip.” It added that the system is particularly well suited for fire support and armed reconnaissance roles, such as close air support (CAS) and strike coordination and reconnaissance (SCAR) missions.

The Talios gimbal features new infrared (IR) and near IR sensors that provide higher quality images, which allows the aircraft to remain at a safe stand-off distance. This higher resolution and additional tactical overlays also enhance image interpretation and thus the decision-making process when it comes to engaging targets. Thales states that Talios was designed as a ‘plug and fight’ system, with an open architecture that allows for additional functions to be incorporated into the pod to meet evolving military requirements.

The pod will be mainly used for intelligence gathering, along with the search, identification, monitoring and designation of ground targets for the Rafale’s weapons systems. “To do this, [Talios] also benefits from the precision of its geolocation, a modern and enhanced human-system interface and an integrated Rover capability, allowing the exchange of images with troops on the ground. It also has integrated maintenance capabilities that will facilitate its support,” the French Air and Space Force added.