The French Navy has become the first customer of Thales’s high-performance SonoFlash sonobuoy, which was presented at the Euronaval 2018 event held in Paris Le Bourget.
The SonoFlash systems will be deployed on the French Navy’s upgraded Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft and the NH90 Caiman tactical transport helicopter to support network-centric anti-submarine warfare (ASW).
Equipped with digital signal and a high-performance communication link, the sonobuoy will provide naval aviation units with intrinsic and tactical performance to help increase ASW capabilities.
Thales Underwater Systems Activities vice-president Alexis Morel said: “Navies will have a unique way to boost the performance of their ASW operations.
“The only sonobuoy of its kind on the market, SonoFlash offers outstanding acoustic performance and endurance, while its digital signal can be exploited remotely and in real-time in combination with data from other sensors. It’s a real asset for collaborative naval combat.”
Designed at Thales Brest facility in France, SonoFlash also has the capability to be deployed by unmanned platforms such as autonomous surface vehicles and rotary-wing (VTOL), as well as fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with a suitable pod.
The sonobuoy capabilities are the result of a joint investment by the French defence procurement agency Direction générale de l’armement (DGA) and Thales.
The SonoFlash system allows each aircraft to expand its coverage area and respond to evasive manoeuvres by a submarine easily and quickly.
Using its digital signal and optimal communication range, the sonobuoy data can be exploited by any vessel, aircraft or shore-based centre equipped with an appropriate processing system.