French Navy’s Future SSBN to Carry Thales Next-Generation Sonar System
PARIS — The French defense procurement agency DGA has awarded Thales a 42-month contract to conduct a set of studies and technological developments for a sonar system to be equipped on France’s SNLE 3G future third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN), the company said in a Feb.7 release.
These developments take into account current and future threat environment and support Thales’s efforts to complete design and qualification of a large antenna system and related processing capabilities made possible by advances in algorithms and the digital revolution.
This new research and development program builds on the results of studies launched under France’s two previous defense spending plans. It will include final validation of the fourth-generation flank arrays and the development of a new sonar interceptor, with latest-generation adaptive antenna processing and threat classification algorithms as well as an innovative bow-mounted antenna concept.
The contract follows an award announced in 2016 to develop the ALRO towed linear array based on optical technology. It further consolidates Thales’s leadership in underwater systems and expands the company’s involvement in major French naval defense programs, such as the SNLE 2G second-generation SSBNs, Rubis- and Barracuda-class nuclear-powered attack submarines, FREMM multimission frigates, the ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft upgrade and the SLAM-F mine countermeasures program.
This latest award strengthens France’s naval defense technological and industrial base through Thales and its program partners and reflects the priorities of France’s 2017 strategic review of defense and national security, which recognizes the need for a technologically advanced underwater defense capability.