Thales to upgrade RAN’s Collins-class submarine’s sonar system

Thales has been awarded a $100m design and pre-production contract to upgrade sonar systems installed on-board the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Collins-class type 471 diesel-electric submarines.

This order follows a $22.2m contract awarded to Thales in November 2012 to upgrade sonar equipment for the Collins-class submarines.

Under the latest contract, Thales will replace the existing sonar arrays with its latest underwater sensing technology.

"Thales will replace the existing sonar arrays with its latest underwater sensing technology."

Announced by Australian Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, the upgrade contract will enable the Commonwealth of Australia to take crucial decisions on sonar and wider Collins-class upgrades programme in future.

Pyne said: “The sonar system upgrade will install improved sonar sensor arrays aboard each of the Collins submarines, as well as improved signal processing systems.”

Integration work under the contract, which is expected to involve more than 100 people, will be carried out at Thales’s underwater systems facility in Rydalmere, Western Sydney, Australia.

Thales will collaborate with Australian providers such as Sonartech Atlas and L3 Oceania to perform the upgrade work.

The company will also work with the company's teams in the UK to replace the Collins’ legacy cylindrical array with its modular cylindrical array (MCA), while the Thales teams in France will replace the existing flank array with the latest generation flank array.

The RAN currently operates a fleet of six Australian Submarine Corporation-built Collins-class submarines, which are designed to carry up to 22 missiles and torpedoes, as well as six 533mm forward-torpedo tubes with air-turbine pump discharge.

Image: Members working on the third Collins-class submarine, HMAS Waller. Photo: courtesy of Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick.