The French Navy has successfully inducted the Thales-built folding light acoustic system for helicopters (FLASH) SONICS system onto a Caiman Marine (NH90) heavy lift helicopter.
Implementation crew for the NH90 helicopter from 33F Squadron demonstrated the system’s capability during a three-month long deployment of the French Navy’s FREMM multi-mission ship, Aquitaine.
The system validated its detection ranges and processing capacities, while NH90 helicopter’s ASW capabilities complemented the Captas-4 towed array sonar and UMS 4110 hull-mounted sonar systems of the vessel.
Caiman detachment commander lieutenant commander Jérôme Dubois said: "As well as delivering exceptional performance, the FLASH SONICS system has significantly raised the bar in terms of human-system interface technology and operational data processing."
The FLASH active low-frequency airborne sonar system can be linked with an active/passive sonobuoy processing system to enable navy’s new anti-submarine warfare helicopters to identify and track enemy submarines.
France had ordered 61 NH90 aircraft, with 27 being the naval version naval frigate helicopter (NFH), while the remaining 34 have been designated as the army version tactical transport helicopter (TTH).
In addition to French NH90 NFH, the Thales-built family of dipping sonars are currently in-service with the UK Royal Navy’s Merlin EH101, Norwegian and Swedish NH90, the US Navy’s MH60-R, and the UAE’s Cougar helicopter.
Capable of accommodating a crew of 145 with a complement crew of 108, the 142m-long French Navy’s FREMM ships have a displacement capacity of 6,000t, can cruise at a speed of 27k and has a range of 15k.
The FREMM programme is Europe’s largest naval programme, in France will acquire 11 frigates and a further ten vessels designated for Italy.
Image: A French Navy’s NH90 helicopter equipped with FLASH SONICS system. Photo: courtesy of Marine Nationale / Thales Group.