Thales Underwater Systems has reached a major milestone in the conversion of its Sonar 2076 sonar suite from a closed architecture/bespoke electronics system to an open architecture/commercial-off-the-shelf system. The high-performance Sonar 2076 suite, at sea in three U.K. Royal Navy Trafalgar-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), is being retrofitted into a fourth, and will also equip the three new Astute-class SSNs currently being built.
The milestone was the successful completion on Wednesday, May 23rd of the Critical Design Review of Stage 5 of the 17-year, 300-million pound Sonar 2076 program, says Jeff Clarke of Thales Underwater Systems in Cheadle Heath outside Manchester, England.
The review was performed by a team of 45 people of which 20 were from Thales and the remainder from BAE Systems (prime contractor for the British submarine programs), the U.K. Ministry of Defense (MoD) and other companies involved in the sonar business, Clarke tells Ares today.
Stage 5 is being developed under a 25-million pound contract awarded in September 2006 (this includes delivery of a first system for the submarine HMS Trenchant) for entry-into-service by 2009.
According to Clarke, additional orders are expected to also upgrade the other three Trafalgar-class SSNs that have Sonar 2076 (HMS Torbay, Talent and Triumph) as well as the first three of the new Astute-class SSNs -- the first of which (HMS Astute) will be launched at the BAE Systems' nuclear submarine yard at Barrow-in-Furness on June 8.
Sonar 2076 Stage 5 will also be the baseline for the sonar suite for Batch 2 of the Astute-class program. The first SSN of Batch 2 (the fourth of the Astutes) will be HMS Audacious. On May 21st, BAE Systems received a 200 million pound contract for the initial construction work for this boat.
Sonar 2076 Stage 5 is to retain the full capabilities and functionalities of the latest Stage 4 standard, while opening up the system to allow the customer to rapidly and cost-effectively insert new capabilities during the life of the submarine.
HMS Trenchant will be a test platform for open systems architecture, commercial-off-the-shelf combat and sonar systems, as the boat will not only be equipped with Sonar 2076 Stage 5, but also with the latest version of the BAE Systems-supplied SMCS submarine command system and the new Ultra Electronics-supplied Talan local area network, both based on commercial-off-the-shelf systems.
A more detailed report on U.K. nuclear submarine sonar developments, and other anti-submarine warfare sonar developments in Thales Underwater Systems, will be published in one of the upcoming issues of Defense Technology International.
-- Joris Janssen Lok