10 Juni 2009

Thales Scores Singapore Minehunter Deal

12 Mei 2009
Bedok class MCM (photo : DefenceTalk)

PARIS - Singapore has selected Thales as prime contractor to modernize its four Bedok-class minehunter ships, said Marc Darmon, senior vice president and head of the systems company's naval division.

Darmon declined to disclose the value of the deal, but said it is worth "a significant amount for Thales."

Singapore's Defense Science and Technology Agency chose Thales for the vessels' life extension program after an international tender that pitted the French company against German archrival Atlas Elektronik, a joint venture between ThyssenKrupp and EADS.

Thales will provide "an advanced integrated mine countermeasures combat system, including the mine information system, a hull-mounted sonar, a towed synthetic aperture sonar [SAS] and expendable mine disposal systems," the company said in a statement.

The towed synthetic sonar array is the DUBM 44, an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) that uses onboard processing of digital signals to provide high-resolution imagery. The DUBM 44 UUV is not autonomous and is connected by cable to the surface ship.

Thales would also work with local partner ST Electronics on unspecified areas as part of the Singapore deal.

The Singapore deal marks a fourth consecutive win for Thales in mine warfare technology in recent years, Darmon said.

Thales UK last year brokered a deal in which Lithuania bought two former U.K. Royal Navy Hunt-class minehunters from the British government and won a contract to fit them out with advanced anti-mine gear.

India awarded Thales a contract for two complete sonar systems last year for its Karwar-class minehunters, and Norway selected the company's sonar systems for its Oksoy class of mine countermeasure vessels.

Thales also is hoping to win a feasibility study, dubbed Espadon, for future anti-mine warfare technology from the Délégation Générale pour l'Armement (DGA), France's defense procurement agency, which is expected to be awarded this year.

Darmon said he expects a large sonar contract win in a mine countermeasures program from a European navy in the next 12 months, but disclosed no further details.

The mine countermeasures market is a "domain in growth," he said, and Thales expects to bid on one or two such projects a year. Sales of sonar systems in mine countermeasures are worth about 100 million euros ($136 million) a year. That would give Thales a quarter of the world market for anti-mine warfare equipment, estimated to be worth a total of 400 million euros a year.

Thales named Darmon head of the naval division in January, succeeding Jean-George Malcor, who was put in charge of the aerospace division. The naval division has annual sales of some 2 billion euros and an order book representing three years of sales.

(Defense News)

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