At the Alkan company, near Paris, they manufacture carriage, release and ejection systems, or more clearly parts that attach the various weapons to, and subsequently released from, military planes and helicopters.
Armand Carlier, Chairman and CEO - Alkan: "Normally under a Rafale, when you want to drop a 550 lb or 1,100 lb (250kg or 500 kg) bomb, it will not just fall because you release it. It will fly with the plane at high speed. Typically above 400 knots, a bomb must be forced away from the aircraft."
Alkan is one of very few global specialists who master these technologies. For the Rafale, the ejection is done using a 350 bar compressed air system. Speeds and distances are calculated with extreme precision, because an improper adjustment could have catastrophic consequences.
Thomas Favre, project manager engineer - Alkan: "The danger for an ejector which does not have the correct ejection performance, would be that the load is not pushed far enough, or fast enough, when the aircraft releases it, and in the worst extreme cases, it remains attached under the wing by suction, potentially bringing the aircraft down by its own payload."
With numerous aircraft such as the Mirage 2000, F-16, Gripen, Tiger, and Black Hawk to equip, the plant’s one hundred and fifty employees have enough work on their hands to keep them busy. If the company is doing well, it is also thanks to its business strategy.
Armand Carlier, Chairman and CEO - Alkan: "One reason we survive is because we resemble a German SME in that 60% of what comes out of this plant is intended for non-French markets. Throughout the world today our equipment flies in roughly 60 countries."
To stay at the forefront of its field, Alkan now has a new challenge that of adapting its equipment to combat drones, for which the market should really take off in the coming years.