According to the Australian DoD, the outboard flank array forms part of the Sonar Subsystem, which is used when the submarine is submerged. This vital piece of equipment acts as the submarine’s eyes and ears, providing situational awareness for the crew.
Defence electronics company Thales is recognized as an expert in the field of sonar systems and has already designed and supplied the flank arrays for the Royal Navy’s Astute-class and French Navy Suffren-class submarines. The company is also upgrading the sonars fitted aboard the existing Collins-class submarines of the Royal Australian Navy.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the design of the outboard flank array is vital to the operational effectiveness of the Attack-class submarine and its regional superiority:
“Thales is a global leader in underwater systems and the world’s top exporter of sonars and related systems for naval forces. This contract builds on the work Defence already has with Thales to upgrade the sonar suite of the Collins fleet. “Following a competitive tendering process, Thales is committed to establishing the Australian industrial capability needed to support the sovereign build, operation and sustainment of the Attack class submarine. This is a significant step in the right direction to build up Australian capability for the Future Submarine Program. By bringing together the best underwater sensing technology with local industry, it will ensure we deliver a sovereign regionally superior submarine.”
Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC
Thales will support and promote Australian Industry Capability by:
- Conducting a proportion of the design phase in Australia by engaging one of three Australian‑based companies, Thales Australia, Babcock Australia, and BMT Group, through a competitive process;
- Leveraging existing in-country capabilities that support other Australian Defence Force assets, including the Collins class submarine, for the assembly, integration and sustainment phases;
- An industry development package for the transfer of industrial capability to Australia to enable the provision of critical sub-assemblies and line replaceable units for both initial supply and sustainment.
Following the successful completion of the design phase, further work will be contracted for the manufacture of the subsystem from 2023.
About Australia’s Attack-class Submarine
Construction on the first ship of the class (the future HMAS Attack) is expected to start in 2022 and its delivery should take place in the early 2030ies. The next units will follow with a cadence of one submarine every two years.
The Australian Government selected Naval Group (then known as DCNS) as its preferred international partner for the design of 12 Future submarines for the Royal Australian Navy on April 26 2016. In the SEA1000 project, DCNS was competing with the Shortfin Barracuda design against Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) Type 216 and Japan’s Soryu-class designs. Based on the new Barracuda nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) of the French Navy (the first ship of the class is set to be launched this summer), Australia’s Attack-class submarine will be 97 meters in length and 8.8 meters in diameter.