Yves Kovalevsky of NBC-Sys explains the company’s major role in the French CBRN defence industry to build the nation’s resilience.

In 2017 the General Secretariat for Defence and National Security (SGDSN) stated that “the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threat evolution, which includes serious destabilisation effects for our society, must be taken into account immediately to avert it. The CBRN threat and its associated risks are to be considered specific and require an appropriate reinforcement of the response.”

Resilience of a society means its capacity to overcome a major disrupting event such as a crisis or conflict situation while recovering its material, human and moral resources. The resilience of our Armed Forces and our Country has been declared a major objective for French national security.

In response to these challenges, NBC-Sys and some other French companies in this sector are developing and producing detection and analysis tools, personal and collective protective equipment, and decontamination systems. Thus, for each of these segments (detection, protection and decontamination) NBC-Sys, a subsidiary of the Nexter Group, offers a range of products for the armed forces and other civil organisations involved in CBRN crisis management.

For biological threats detection, NBC-Sys’s offer includes the KDTB Gold, a complete detection kit for first responders which allows a first level of threat identification in order to determine the most appropriate action.

KDTB Gold is made of eight target assays and a multiplexed strip. It is very easy to use as based on antigen technology – now familiar to us due to the Covid-19 pandemic – and provides a response within 15 minutes.

The kit has proven its reliability in use with first responders, armed forces and civil defence organisations. KDTB Gold was jointly developed with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), which conducts continuous R&D activities to target new threats.

As for individual protection, NBC-Sys designs equipment for military forces, civilian emergency response units and the general population. For military and first response forces, NBC-Sys supplies a respiratory protection mask, which exists in a number of versions.

ARFA (filtering respiratory device for the armed forces) is one of the most protective CBRN gas mask on the market. The millionth ARFA mask was produced in 2021, all versions included.

ARFA is still being improved to integrate new operational requirements. A more ergonomic Mk II model is proposed with a right of left mounted canister for easy weapon holding and aiming.

EVATOX is an escape hood dedicated to evacuate civilians safely from a danger zone. The device is very easy to use and is available in adult, child and baby versions.

CBRN filtration systems for SCORPION
NBC-Sys also designs and produces CBRN filtration systems for armoured vehicles and various other platforms (shelters, tents, ships). They are suitable to equip last-generation brand new vehicles as well to modernise older-generation ones.

NBC-Sys continues to innovate with a plug-and-play concept developed for the armoured vehicle French SCORPION programme. RENOUVAIR is permanently installed during peacetime and for so-called ‘conventional’ operations. The equipment is replaced with a NATO standard CBRN filtration kit for operations involving ‘non-conventional’ (chemical, biological or radiological) threats. This plug-and-play concept ensures optimised investment and operational costs and improved overall safety for crews.

These are just some examples of NBC-Sys solutions, along with its decontamination systems in which the company has already demonstrated its expertise worldwide. NBC-Sys is a strong part of the French DIB (Defence Industrial Base) that has an essential role in improving the nation’s resilience to face large-scale CBRN events.
According to the 4i rule*, Armed forces often provide active support with material and human resources to the civil crisis management organisation.

This support is important as the Ministry of the Armed Forces is sometimes the only organisation possessing specific CBRN equipment and skills. The military personnel are also well prepared for crisis periods and can be mobilised faster than civilians. For these reasons, all French crisis management plans include active military participation, men and equipment.

*The 4i rule
The armed forces can contribute to homeland civil defence when resources of the civilian authorities are unavailable, inadequate, non-existent or insufficient (all these words begin with ‘I’ in French).

Yves Kovalevsky is former French Army CBRN Experts Corps and serves as operational advisor to the CEO of NBC-Sys.

EVATOX is an evacuation hood for civilian use.