The French defence 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 future third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SNLE 3G).
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 programme builds on the results of studies launched under France’s two previous defence 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 defence programmes, such as the SNLE 2G second-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), Rubis and Barracuda class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SNA), FREMM multimission frigates, the ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft upgrade and the SLAM-F mine countermeasures programme.
This latest award strengthens France’s naval defence technological and industrial base through Thales and its programme partners and reflects the priorities of France’s 2017 strategic review of defence and national security, which recognises the need for a technologically advanced underwater defence capability.