A Thales folding light acoustic system (FLASH) active dipping sonar system onboard a UK Royal Navy (RN) Merlin helicopter squadron has proven its capabilities in a multinational anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise, Proud Manta 2011.

The RN Merlin squadron has participated for the first time in Nato’s largest annual ASW exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Merlin’s acoustic sub-system consists of the FLASH dipping sonar, combined with a sonic subsystem for sonobuoy processing.

The sonar has been designed for ASW operations in deep, shallow and littoral environments, to detect submarine targets.

RN lieutenant commander Andy Watson said, “It is the ideal sensor to locate and clear threats in the water space ahead of the task force to ensure their safe passage, a task that a maritime patrol aircraft is not able to do effectively with the use of active sonobouys.”

The Merlin helicopter is the backbone of the UK’s ASW capability used to protect nuclear deterrent and maritime task groups worldwide, which will be led in the future by the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.