French multinational company Thales will develop the new sonar suite for France’s third-generation, nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines which include Australian-made acoustic sensors under a contract with the French defence procurement agency, Direction générale de l'armement.
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The DGA contract covers design and development of the sonar suite for third-generation, sub-surface ballistic nuclear submarines, as well as the detailed design and deployment of the sonar suite for the second-generation vessels.
The French Navy’s Strategic Oceanic Force already operates four Le Triomphant Class strategic missile submarines for permanent nuclear deterrent (SNLE 2G). The next SNLE 3G program is already underway to build the French Navy’s third-generation, nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines for delivery by 2035.
Thales’ new-generation sonar suite, fitted to both generations, will reportedly feature disruptive technologies and large arrays housing a multitude of high-performance sensors supported by powerful big data algorithms to provide a comprehensive picture of the underwater acoustic environment.
The acoustic sensors for the sonar suite are manufactured by Thales in their site in Rydalmere, Australia.
Gwendoline Blandin-Roger, Thales underwater systems vice-president, said the sonar suite will detect, locate, and classify all types of threats at short, medium and long range and provide an unprecedented level of underwater situational awareness.
“This new contract reflects the DGA’s continuing trust in Thales to support its highly strategic nuclear deterrence-related operations,” she said.
“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.”
New sensors will generate significantly larger volumes of data than earlier systems, she said.
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.