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Thales to design Attack-class flank sonar array

Thales UK has won a contract from Defence, via Lockheed Martin Australia, to design the flank sonar array for the RAN’s new Attack-class submarines. Photo: Defence

Thales has been awarded a contract of undisclosed value to design the outboard flank sonar array for the Navy’s Attack class submarines, the boats’ primary underwater sensor. The contract with Thales UK for the design of the outboard flank array and partnering arrangements with Australian industry followed a competitive tender and was awarded through Lockheed Martin Australia which is the Future Submarine Program Combat System Integrator (FSPCSI).

The outboard flank array forms part of the Attack class’s Sonar Subsystem, and will act as the submarine’s eyes and ears, providing situational awareness for the command team.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds CSC said the design of the outboard flank array is vital to the operational effectiveness of the Attack class submarine and its regional superiority.

“Thales is a global leader in underwater systems and the world’s top exporter of sonars and related systems for naval forces. This contract builds on the work Defence already has with Thales to upgrade the sonar suite of the Collins fleet,” Minister Reynolds said. “Following a competitive tendering process, Thales is committed to establishing the Australian industrial capability needed to support the sovereign build, operation and sustainment of the Attack class submarine.

“This is a significant step in the right direction to build up Australian capability for the Future Submarine Program. By bringing together the best underwater sensing technology with local industry, it will ensure we deliver a sovereign, regionally superior submarine.”

Thales will support and promote Australian Industry Capability by:

  • Conducting a proportion of the design phase in Australia by engaging one of three Australian?based companies, Thales Australia, Babcock Australia, and BMT Group, through a competitive process;
  • Leveraging existing in-country capabilities that support other Australian Defence Force assets, including the Collins class submarine, for the assembly, integration and sustainment phases;
  • An industry development package for the transfer of industrial capability to Australia to enable the provision of critical sub-assemblies and line replaceable units for both initial supply and sustainment.

Thales Australia is home to the Acoustics Centre of Excellence in Rydalmere, NSW, where among other things it is a sole source supplier of piezo-ceramic materials for use in the company’s global family of hydrophones and sonar transducers. It also manufactures acoustic sensor systems and has a significant in-house R&D and design team. Rydalmere has been the source of a range of Thales sonar systems for RAN surface ships and submarines, including the Spherion B Hull-mounted sonar for the ANZAC-class frigates, the Type 2093 Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) for the Huon-class minehunters and the entire sonar suite for the Collins-class submarines, including the Scylla and Kariwara systems.

Following the successful completion of the design phase, further work will be contracted for the manufacture of the subsystem from 2023.

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