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June 20, 2018 | International, Naval

Australian subs to get sonar boost

PARIS — Thales has sealed a deal worth AU $230 million (U.S. $169 million) to boost the sonar capability on the Australian Navy's six-strong fleet of Collins submarines, drawing on teams working in Britain, France and Australia.

“Australia's strategic priority on enhancing its submarine capability will be supported by Thales through major upgrades of the sonar system on all six Collins class submarines,” the electronics company said in a June 14 statement.

Thales' work is part of a total AU $542 million project to install a modular cylindrical array, based on sonar 2076 submarine technology developed by its British unit, the company said. That modular array replaces a cylindrical array installed in the 1980s. A new flank array from the Thales French unit will replace the existing system.

Thales will work with the combat system integrator, Raytheon Australia, which will integrate products from other suppliers including Sonartech Atlas and L3 Oceania. The sonar work will support more than 140 local jobs, of which 50 will be Thales staff at its Rydalmere plant, western Sydney, the company said. That deal follows Thales winning in November 2016 a contract for design and pre-production to upgrade cylindrical and flank array sonars, including onboard processing, on the Collins boats.

Separately, Thales hopes to win business worth more than AU $1.6 billion to supply sonars and other equipment on the Australian acquisition of 12 ocean-going attack submarines. Lockheed Martin is combat systems integrator and Naval Group the prime contractor on that program worth some AU $50 billion.

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