Australian submarine sonar systems begin $407 million upgrade

A Collins-class submarine of the Australian Navy. The six-sub fleet will receive upgrades to its sonar capabilities, Thales Australia and the Australian defense industry minister announced on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Thales Australia

une 14 (UPI) — Australia’s submarine fleet will receive sonar system upgrades with a $173 million contract with Thales Australia, the the company and Minister for the Defense Industry Christopher Pyne announced on Thursday.

The contract is part of a $407 million project approved by the Australian government to improve the sensor capabilities of the country’s Collins Class, six diesel-electric motor submarine fleet. Work will begin later this year at Thales’ Rydalmere facility in western Sydney. About 70 percent of the overall work, which will directly create over 140 jobs, will be of Australian industry content.

Thales will work with local industries to deliver upgrades to the six-submarine fleet, it said on Wednesday. The legacy cylindrical arrays on the vessels will be replaced with the Modular Cylindrical Array, which is based on new Sonar 2076 technology, the company said.

“This will better enable our submarines to safely navigate, detect and locate other vessels while remaining hidden themselves,” Pyne said in a statement.

Sonar systems currently on the submarines are derived from French technology used in the 1980s.

“France and Australia have collaborated closely on sonar systems for the Collins submarines since the start of the program more than 30 years ago. Thales teams based in France, UK and Australia have worked together as one team to master the sonar technology in Australia and to share know-how with one ambition: assure long term regional superiority for the Royal Australian Navy,” said Alexis Morel, Thales vice president.