Visit of CEA/DAM's simulation tools

The CEA's Military Applications Division (DAM) is responsible for the design, manufacturing, through-life support and dismantling of the nuclear warheads that equip France's sea and airborne deterrence forces. Since the definitive discontinuance of French nuclear tests, the reliability and safety of nuclear warheads are now ensured thanks to the Simulation Program launched in 1996. This program is based on the modelling of physical phenomena involved in the operation of a weapon. Supercomputers are used to calculate these equations, which undergo experimental validation using the major Epure and Megajoule (LMJ) Laser facilities.

The physics experiments conducted at the Epure facility in Valduc allow for a radiographic characterization of the hydrodynamic status and behaviour of the materials during the weapon's phase of operation, which, for a weapon, precedes nuclear fission. The physics experiments conducted with the LMJ at the Cesta reproduce the pressure and temperature conditions encountered during the nuclear phase of the weapons' operation (or in the stars), with targets measuring a few millimetres in size.

All of the physics required to guarantee nuclear weapons is backed by a series of software programs which, thanks to their input data and user specifications, constitute the weapons' safeguard standard. Three generations of increasingly precise standards have succeeded one another since 1996, and have allowed for the airborne nuclear warhead (TNA) and the oceanic nuclear warhead (TNO) to be designed, defined and guaranteed.

Three generations of supercomputers installed at the DAM/Ile-de-France centre were defined and created in order to implement these safeguard standards: TERA 1 in 2001, TERA 10 in 2005 and TERA 100 in 2010, the latter having a computational capacity of 1.3 Petaflops, i.e. more than one quadrillion operations per second. The requirements of the Simulation Program call for the implementation of a supercomputer that is about a thousand times more powerful (EXA 1) by 2020. To meet this challenge, the CEA has entered into a co-design project with Atos/Bull based on optimizing the performance of the simulation code structure and the architecture of the supercomputers. The staged commissioning of TERA 1000, whose capacity will be 20 times greater than that of TERA 100 for the same energy consumption, already prefigures the architecture of EXA 1.

Supercomputer TERA1000-1, commissioned at the DAM Ile-de-France center (2016)



Visit to the ONERA centre in Palaiseau

In 1947, ONERA took possession of the Fort of Palaiseau, which belonged to the Groupement Français pour le Développement des Recherches Aéronautiques (GRA), where it installed engine and compressor test benches.

In partnership with the CNRS since 1945, the CEA since 1952 and the Ecole Polytechnique since 1976, ONERA contributed to the creation of the scientific research centre at the Saclay cluster.

Today, ONERA is one of the founders of the world-renowned "Paris-Saclay" university campus in the Ile-de-France region. For ONERA, being part of this great university provides an opportunity to increase cooperation with the research sector and to lead aeronautic and defence research at the Saclay cluster, as well as to increase its international visibility.

The centre currently employs close to 600 individuals: engineers, PhD students, technicians, administrative staff, etc. Interns (non-PhD students) and employees from outside companies also work at the centre, where engineers and managers constitute 70% of the workforce. The centre is also focused on future development.

Within a strong management culture, this scientific personnel work in various fields that range from theoretical modelling to the design of demonstrators and digital simulation.

ONERA contributes to the design of future weapon systems in three ways:

  • By identifying potential accessible gains through its research on new technical and technological concepts ,
  • By applying its knowledge of certain technologies to assist the DGA as an expert in certain industrial developments of future weapon systems,
  • By also providing assistance to industry, thanks to its experimental tools and skills.

During your visit to the Palaiseau centre, you will discover three units:

Ramjet supersonic and scramjet hypersonic propulsionwith a visit of the experimental facilities which allow for the simulation of flight conditions encountered by aircraft flying at very high speeds.

Innovative radar designs:

  • The skywave radars "Nostradamus" and "Pégase" with their major detection capacity that allow, in particular, for the monitoring and analysis of flight activity over a broad sector and long range, as well as surveillance of high-sea maritime traffic;
  • Surface wave radars for extensive coastal surveillance, which use the sea surface as a propagation channel to cross the radio horizon;
  • The "GRAVES" space surveillance system that allows for the identification and tracking of objects in low orbit and for their trajectories to be catalogued.

The BLADE laboratory, which is an evaluation infrastructure for aerospace and defence systems dedicated to the simulation of "systems of systems." It allows for the construction of a comprehensive simulation of planned architectures in order to assess their performance. BLADE is a tool that is interoperable with those of our partners, in particular those of the DGA.