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Thales Australia to enhance Collins-class sonars

HMAS Waller on the surface; the Collins class submarine fleet will get a new MOAS and HFIA designed by Thales Australia. Photo: Defence

Thales Australia has won a $23.7 million contract to deliver new generation Australian-designed Mine and Obstacle Avoidance Sonar (MOAS) and High Frequency Intercept Array (HFIA) systems for the RAN’s Collins class submarines.

These will enhance the boats’ operational effectiveness as well as their safety in hazardous, shallow waters.

The Heron MOAS is an Australian designed and developed system and the result of more than 20 years of investment in Australia by Thales, the RAN and DST to develop sonar systems tailored to Navy’s unique operating requirements.

Mine and obstacle avoidance capability is critical to sustain naval operations due to the rapidly evolving threat of mines, as well as other navigational hazards in the shallow, poorly charted waters that are prevalent throughout Australia’s maritime region.

The Heron system provides enhanced detection, coupled with a low false alarm rate, against dangers ranging from small mine-like objects to reefs, shoals, and hazards such as displaced shipping containers. The HFIA will enhance the submarine’s ability to detect high frequency emissions like sonars, and emerging undersea threats.

Minister for Defence Senator Linda Reynolds said both the MOAS and HFIA are important parts of the upgrades to the Collins sonar system.

“Our six Collins Class submarines are a highly capable and regionally superior capability that are only halfway through their operational life,” Minister Reynolds said.

“To ensure this capability maintains its edge, we are upgrading and improving its systems including through sonar upgrades. With more than 20 years of investment in Australia by Thales and Defence, these upgrades will complement broader improvements to the sonar capability of the Collins Class, ensuring the regional superiority of the fleet into the future.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said Thales had extensive experience working on the Collins fleet and other Australian-based companies would be engaged throughout the contracts.

Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said that these new systems will achieve more than 80% Australian Industry Capability and additional export opportunities.

“These advanced systems are designed, developed, integrated and sustained in Australia. Enhancing our world leading sovereign industrial capability in sonar systems.

“Together, these contracts will support approximately 30 jobs at our Rydalmere site in western Sydney and additional jobs with our supply chain partners.

Thales Australia Underwater Systems Vice President, Troy Stephen said the Heron MOAS will give our submarines the tools they need to remain safe within a mine threat area.

“We will be working with a great team of Australian supply chain partners and the proven capability of the Underwater Systems team in France to deliver this capability to the Royal Australian Navy”.

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