French military picks Thales to provide helmet-mounted displays and avionics for Rafale jet fighter aircraft

Aug. 19, 2021
Thales to provide Scorpion helmet-mounted displays and 400 digital multifunction displays to enhance Rafale jet fighter situational awareness.

PARIS – Officials of the French defense procurement agency in France needed helmet-mounted displays for the Dassault Aviation Rafale jet fighter. They found their solution from Thales in Paris.

Officials of the French defense procurement agency have ordered 350 Scorpion helmet-mounted sight and display systems and 400 digital multifunction displays from Thales to enhance the Rafale's tactical situational awareness and slave the weapon or mission systems to the pilot’s line of sight.

Thales will supply Scorpion helmet-mounted sight and display systems and digital multi-function displays for all the Dassault Aviation Rafale multirole jet fighter aircraft in service with the French air and space forces and the French navy.

Scorpion is from Thales Visionix, a division of Thales Defense & Security Inc. in Aurora, Ill., which develops helmet mounted display and motion tracking technologies, including inertial tracking and sensor-fusion.

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The Visionix Scorpion system is in full production under several commercial OEM productions contracts and current U.S. government contracts and flies on the A-10 Thunderbolt; F-16 Viper; Spanish F/A-18; AC-130W Dragon Spear; AT-6; F-22; OV-10; UH-60/S-70; MD530G; H125M; H145M; and H225.

The Scorpion helmet-mounted cueing system, allows for rapid installation by requiring no avionics bay modifications, and features an interface control unit that mounts in the aircraft cockpit.

System control is via the Ethernet databus, and one LRU fits in the aircraft's side console DZUS rail mount. The system's inertial optical hybrid tracker requires no mapping, works either from an Ethernet or MIL-STD-1553B databus.

Scorpion is designed, engineered and manufactured by Thales Visionix to integrate with night-vision goggles, as well as protective visors and oxygen masks. Scorpion enables the pilot to create his own cockpit.

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The see-through Scorpion display module is the focal point of the HMCS, and shows necessary data in a virtual heads up display (HUD) with 360-by-360-degree conformal color symbology.

The system provides precise head-steered weapons and sensor cueing; rapid target acquisition and handoff to sensors and weapons; sensor video capability with full-color overlay symbols; simple boresighting; is compatible with clear/glare/yellow/LEP/step-in visors and eyeglasses.

Rafale aircrews must analyse much data quickly while on combat missions in complex environments. Coupled with the aircraft's weapon systems, the Scorpion helmet-mounted sight and display enables pilots to quickly to a range of threats.

The Scorpion's helmet-mounted display symbology brings together information from the aircraft’s onboard sensors to help pilots perform their missions by creating a continuum between the cockpit and the outside world to improve awareness.

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Scorpion couples the aircraft's weapon system to designate and track targets anywhere in the crew's field of view in daylight and at night. Scorpion is optimized for weight and balance.

The 400 digital multi-function displays on order will replace the lateral displays on France's in-service Rafale aircraft, which inform the pilot about the status of the aircraft's systems and provide imagery from its onboard sensors.

The new equipment offers a larger display area, an improved touchscreen interface, and greater processing power. For more information contact Thales Visionix online at, or the French defense procurement agency at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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