Royal Netherlands Air Force has just signed a contract to modernize ILS and DME. Once modernized, these will allow RNALF and allied aircraft to safely carry out instrument landings until 2033.
In a Press release published on October 16, Thales confirmed that the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNALF) had signed a contract to modernize 13 ILS and DMEs. The lifespan of these systems was beginning to reach its limit but this system life extension program (SLEP) carried out by Thales will allow an extension until 2033, while respecting international aeronautical standards and of NATO. This contract, the amount of which has not been disclosed, also includes the provision of maintenance and support services by Thales for the next 12 years. Thales has quite extensive experience with ILS and DME, with nearly 10,000 systems installed in 170 countries. The US Air Force even chose in August 2015 to purchase 40 Deployable Instrument Landing System (D-ILS) from Thales in order to be able to equip temporary air bases or those not equipped with an ILS. In fact, the US Air Force can literally deploy aircraft on simple runways in the middle of the desert and, thanks to D-ILS, ensure a safe landing for the deployed aircraft.
ILS and DME
As a reminder, an instrument landing system (ILS) allows an aircraft to land (on a landing strip equipped with this system) in difficult conditions, with zero visibility,… This system includes a locator , allowing the pilot to know if he is aligned with the runway (horizontal axis), a glide path antenna, allowing the pilot to be informed if he is at the correct descent angle in relation to the track (vertical axis) and finally, three markers allowing the pilot to know the distance he has left to cover before hitting the ground. Finally, distance measuring equipment (DME) allows an aircraft (equipped with a DME receiver) to know the distance which separates it from the DME antenna (unlike the three markers, which only give the position in three places ).
Kaïs Mnif, director of Navigation and non-radar surveillance activities at Thales, sums up the usefulness of these two systems quite well;
“ILS and DME systems enable precise guidance of aircraft on final approach, despite low visibility or a low ceiling. These are therefore essential systems to accomplish the mission in the best security conditions. By choosing Thales, the Dutch Air Force is opting for the most advanced ILS and DME technologies on the market today to equip their air bases and guarantee the continuity of their operational capabilities at all times and in all weather conditions. For them, this is the guarantee of being able to fulfill their national defense missions, in compliance with NATO security requirements.“