Thales, a technology player, has been chosen by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to equip the French Navy’s upcoming offshore patrol vessels with maritime surveillance technologies.

The sensor suite, featuring Bluewatcher sonar, NS50 radar and the TSA 3522 IFF system, provides active and passive surveillance capabilities to ensure optimal effectiveness in safeguarding French waters and supporting naval missions.

These systems will replace the outgoing Estienne d’Orves class and OPV54-class patrol boats. The offshore patrol vessels, set to enter service in 2024, will operate primarily in French metropolitan waters, covering depths ranging from the continental shelf to the continental slope and rise. 

Their long-endurance design makes them ideal for escort roles, especially ahead of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), providing intelligence, deterrence and scouting capabilities.

According to GlobalData’s The Global Naval Vessels and Surface Combatants Market 2023–2033 report, the procurement of light combat vessels including offshore patrol vessels, fast attack craft, fast patrol vessels and mine countermeasure vessels that are equipped with advanced weapons and communication systems is expected to increase globally.

Philippe Duhamel, executive vice-president of defence mission systems at Thales, emphasised the importance of this contract. “This new contract with the French defence procurement agency will enable the French Navy to support the missions of France’s Strategic Oceanic Force, monitor the country’s maritime approaches and contribute to state action at sea.” 

The Bluewatcher sonar, known for its high underwater detection performance, is particularly suitable for vessels operating in shallow waters due to its low-draught design. The NS50 radar, as the first compact 4D multi-mission AESA radar for low/medium-tonnage vessels, provides air and surface surveillance capabilities and performs fire control functions for naval guns and missiles.

Complementing these technologies, the TSA 3522 IFF interrogator is Mode 5 certified, offering a cryptographic solution for identifying objects detected by the radar and ensuring France’s maritime security through naval capabilities.

Thales reported its order intake and sales for the period ending 30 September 2023, stating that the defence and security segment showed a robust growth outlook.