Safran Develops New PNT System, NAVKITE, for French Navy Commandos - Inside GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems Engineering, Policy, and Design

Safran Develops New PNT System, NAVKITE, for French Navy Commandos

Safran Electronics & Defense introduced NAVKITE, a resilient PNT system designed to meet operational requirements for the French Navy Commandos (part of Special Operations Command) at the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS) 2023 exhibition.

The system will be integrated in Embarcation Commando à Usage Multiple Embarquable (ECUME), a transportable, multirole, semi-rigid boat purpose-designed for commandos and other special forces, according to a news release.

NAVKITE was developed through a partnership between Safran and FUSCOLAB, the “innovation lab” for the French navy’s infantry commandos. Safran Electronics & Defense is a long-standing player in inertial navigation solutions, having developed the underlying technologies for more than 70 years.

Starting with a solution imagined by FUSCOLAB, Safran developed the compact, hybrid navigation system that allows special forces to operate in an increasingly complex and uncertain environment. The system’s capabilities depend on the coupling of a GEONYX M inertial navigation system with the VersaSync time/frequency server, both from Safran Electronics & Defense. Together, they handle the transmission of trusted PNT data to ensure mission continuity in GNSS contested environments.

NAVKITE provides navigation integrity and performance whether used on land or at sea, over long periods of time and under demanding circumstances.

The first sea trials were performed out of the Lorient naval base in Brittany by FUSCOLAB and the Ponchardier commando unit, demonstrating NAVKITE’s performance under operational conditions. The system was then deployed in February in the joint services exercise HEMEX, projecting a major engagement, during phase 2 of ORION, a large-scale operation for resilient, innovative and interoperable armed forces focused on high-intensity conflicts. The NAVKITE system delivered “very satisfactory performance.”

Operating in a GNSS-denied environment, whether from jamming, spoofing or lack of signals, is a major challenge, making this type of system critical for special forces.

“All onboard systems must be precisely geolocated and synchronized so they can provide consistent, reliable and time-stamped information under all conditions,” according to the release.

This system from Safran “represents a new autonomous and sovereign PNT solution.”