Thales has signed a $100 million design and pre-production contract to upgrade Collins class submarine sonar systems. The company will enhance the system’s capability to outperform the most advanced underwater threats in an increasingly complex environment.
Thales will build on its local and international expertise to prepare for upgrades to the cylindrical array, flank array, and on-board processing on the submarines, to maintain Royal Australian Navy superiority in the region.
Thales will utilise some of the latest developments in underwater sensing to replace the Collins arrays, which have not been upgraded since first entering service in the mid-1990s.
“The Collins class sonars have proven very effective over many years, and now we are preparing for the upgrade to ensure they remain at the forefront of sensing performance,” CEO Thales Australia Chris Jenkins said.
The integration work will be carried out at Thales’s underwater systems facility in Rydalmere, Western Sydney and will support the Commonwealth in the key decisions on the rollout program of sonar and wider Collins Class upgrades, which will be subject to final Government approval in 2018.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said Australian industry will play a key role in delivering the capability.
“The Australian industry component of the contract to be led by Thales Australia is worth in the order of $50 million and will support around 50 Australian jobs in Sydney and Perth,” he said.
Thales will work with local industry to deliver the upgrades, for the six submarines integrating products from other Australian providers including Sonartech Atlas and L-3 Oceania into the solution.
In an internationally collaborative program, the Collins’ legacy cylindrical array will be replaced with a Modular Cylindrical Array (MCA) based on submarine technology developed by Thales teams in the UK. The existing flank array will be replaced by the latest generation flank array from Thales teams in France. Over 100 people across the company will be involved in the project.
The upgrade program follows the company’s 2012 contract with Defence to update the Collins’ on-board sonar hardware and electronics.