The Australian Government has awarded a A$230m ($173.21m) contract to Thales to carry out major upgrade works on the sonar systems on-board the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) fleet of six Collins-class submarines.

The deal forms part of the Australian Government’s A$542m ($408.17m) project that aims to modernise sensor capabilities across the Collins-class fleet in order extend the life and enhance the capabilities of the RAN vessels.

In addition, the upgraded sonar systems are expected to enable the submarines to safely navigate, detect and identify other ships, while remaining hidden from potential threats.

The production and integration of the sonar systems is set to be carried out at Thales’s underwater systems centre of excellence in Rydalmere, Western Sydney, under the arrangement.

"In an internationally collaborative programme, the Collins’ legacy cylindrical array will be replaced with a modular cylindrical array (MCA) based on Sonar 2076 submarine technology."

The Rydalmere centre will help support more than 140 employment opportunities, including 50 direct jobs working on the project.

Furthermore, the $408.17m sensor upgrade project is expected to provide more than 100 direct jobs across the country, including 51 in New South Wales, 25 in Western Australia, 21 in South Australia and 13 in the Australian Capital Territory.

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Thales Australia chief executive officer Chris Jenkins said: “In an internationally collaborative programme, the Collins’ legacy cylindrical array will be replaced with a modular cylindrical array (MCA) based on Sonar 2076 submarine technology developed by Thales teams in the UK.

“The existing flank array will be replaced by the latest-generation flank array from Thales teams in France.

“Thales will work with local industry, including Raytheon Australia as the Combat System Integrator, to deliver the upgrades for the six submarines, integrating products from other Australian providers, including Sonartech Atlas, and L3 Oceania.”

Raytheon Australia currently serves as the combat systems integrator for the sonar upgrade project.

The platform system integrator of the Collins-class submarines, ASC, is expected to work in collaboration with Raytheon Australia and Thales Australia to install and integrate the sonar system on-board the vessels.

The integration will initially be carried out on HMAS Waller during its full-cycle docking, which is currently underway at the ASC facility in Osborne, South Australia.