25 November 2016
Collins cutaway (image : Amazon)
Thales Australia has been awarded an AUD100 million (USD74.3 million) contract to design a major sonar system upgrade for the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) six Collins-class submarines, Australia's minister for defence industry, Christopher Pyne, said on 23 November.
Pyne said Thales Australia would engage other Australia-based companies, including Sonartech Atlas and L3 Oceania, as well as suppliers from the United Kingdom and France to design the upgrade, which will involve installing improved sonar system arrays and enhanced signal processing systems aboard each of the 3,407-tonne conventionally powered submarines.
Thales Australia said in a statement that it plans to utilise some of the latest developments in underwater sensing to replace the Collins' arrays, which have not been upgraded since first entering service in the mid-1990s. The proposed system design would be subject to final government approval in 2018.
The legacy cylindrical array is set to be replaced with a modular cylindrical array based on technology developed by the company in the United Kingdom. The existing flank array is expected to be replaced with the latest generation flank array developed by Thales in France, with integration work being carried out by Thales in Sydney, the company said.
The upgrade programme follows an AUD22 million (USD16.3 million) contract awarded to Thales Australia in 2012 to update the Collins' on-board sonar hardware and electronics to improve reliability and help reduce space, weight, and power requirements.