Thales has secured a contract from the French defence procurement agency (DGA) to develop the SonoFlash air-droppable sonobuoy.

The contract will also see the company qualify and produce the system.

SonoFlash was unveiled at the Euronaval show in October 2018. It will enable the French Navy to boost its anti-submarine warfare operations.

The new-generation sonobuoy features an optimised low-frequency transmitter with a high-directivity passive receiver and comes with an advantage of ‘long endurance’.

It is claimed to have an ‘unequalled performance-to-mass ratio’ and suitable for a wide range of deployment scenarios.

The system is manufactured in France with a network of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including TELERAD, SelhaGroup and Realmeca.

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Thales Underwater Systems vice-president Alexis Morel said: “Thales has packed ten years of innovation in hardware and digital technologies into a tube measuring 91.4cm long and 12.3cm in diameter.

“SonoFlash extends the range of a naval force’s anti-submarine warfare operations, outclassing all other sonobuoys in the market today and offering a versatile and easy-to-deploy solution for tracking submarines from any piloted or remotely piloted aircraft, frigate or unmanned surface vehicle.

“We are grateful to the DGA and the navy for the trust they have placed in us and delighted to be working with French partner SMEs to bring this project to a successful conclusion and restore France’s sovereign capabilities in sonobuoys.”

SonoFlash buoy will be deployed on the French Navy’s Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft and NH90 Caiman tactical transport helicopters.

The installation will make French Navy the first operational user of the buoy.