Thales has been awarded a contract by the French defence procurement agency (DGA) to develop a new sonar suite for France’s third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines (SNLE 3G) and the programme to modernise its second-generation submarines (SNLE 2G).
The sonar suite developed by Thales will detect, locate and classify all types of threats at short, medium and long range and provide an unprecedented level of underwater situational awareness.
As naval forces contend with a growing array of threats and challenges, submarines remain one of their most strategically important assets. The four SSBNs in the French Navy’s Strategic Oceanic Force (Force Océanique Stratégique, FOST) are deployed to provide a permanent nuclear deterrent.
The DGA contract covers the design and development of the sonar suite for the third-generation SSBNs and the detailed design and deployment of the sonar suite for the second-generation vessels, the company said in a July 11 press release.
A set of disruptive technologies developed by Thales will ensure the acoustic superiority of France’s submarines in the years ahead. New large-format arrays housing multiple sensors will provide unparalleled levels of precision in their threat detection capabilities.
The new sensors will generate significantly larger volumes of data than earlier systems. The ALICIA data processing system (Analyse, Localisation, Identification, Classification Intégrées et Alertes) will use advanced Big Data algorithms, with intuitive user interfaces to optimise operator workload and provide decision support.
“This new contract reflects the DGA’s continuing trust in Thales to support its highly strategic nuclear deterrence-related operations. The latest innovations developed by dedicated Thales engineers for the current and future generations of SSBNs will provide the French Navy with a comprehensive acoustic picture of the underwater environment to counter current and future threats, helping to consolidate its position as one of the world’s leading naval forces.” Gwendoline Blandin-Roger, Vice President, Underwater Systems, Thales.
Thales is a world leader in the underwater systems market, equipping more than 50 submarines of various types — SSBNs, SSNs and conventionally powered attack submarines — in service today. –thales/adj/mhi (Pix: Thales)