“Imagine you’re in the mountains and start to scream”, says Marco. “The sound reflects and you hear an echo. The time difference between your call and the reflection is the distance. A radar also ‘screams’, but with an electromagnetic wave and a lot faster too, around 300.000 km per second. The radar runs in circles, ‘calls’ and comes back when it detects a target. Again, the distance to the target can be calculated by the time difference. In addition, a radar can also measure the pace at which a target is moving. It all happens realtime. It is a fast and critical process and that is what makes it a really interesting product for technicians.”
“There are two types of radars; a searching radar that encircles 360 degrees in just a few seconds and the track-radar that specifically traces 1 target. The radars complement each other really well. The SMART-L used to be the largest searching radar we had at Thales; a product that had been in use by several European countries ever since 2000. Then the Dutch marine asked us to develop a radar that could be used, amongst other, in the event of an actual threat from a country, like, North Korea. Then you’re talking about targets such as ballistic missiles, that cannot be detected by the existing radar because its enormous speed and the partial route it takes outside the atmosphere.”
“At Thales, we already had a patented technology that allowed the radar to see these kinds of target anyhow by ‘listening carefully’. With this technology in mind, we literally started calculating behind the computer, here in Hengelo. That led to the SMART-L EWC, a unique ‘3-in-1 radar’. Alongside detecting air targets and ballistic missiles, the SMART-L EWC also detects satellites, up to 2000 km in space. This allows us entrance to the Space sector, and interesting market because of the increasing number of commercial projects there. Think of applications such as GPS, intelligence and photography but also the detection of space debris.”
“You could actually compare this radar with a Swiss pocketknife, a multitool that can be adapted to changing conditions. That multifunctional employability is attractive to clients and is cost-efficient. A radar has a life-expectancy of around 30 years, a period in which a lot can change in the field of defence. The SMART-L EWC is a future-proof system because the software can be adapted or updated and therefore the radar doesn’t age. The radar could, in future, really be used in case of a North Korean-threat. Then you would have think of detecting ballistic missiles and shooting them down. In addition, Europe is also building a rocket shield; a project in which radar technology also plays an important role. At Thales, we work on serious subject but I really see it as the defensive side of warfare. To be able to contribute to society’s safety; that makes me really proud!”
Do you want to contribute to innovative projects in the field of Safety and Security? Thales also focuses on sensors, combat management, e-ticketing, communication systems and cybersecurity in addition to radars. Globally around 68.000 work there and in the Netherlands, for example in Hengelo, around 1800. Thales is not just looking for technical employees but also offers a lot of opportunities at their commercial, financial and HR departments. In addition, the company also offers over 150 internships and final projects a year. Do you want to make the difference? Have a look here at the career opportunities that Thales has to offer you!