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Thales sonar systems play critical role in anti-submarine exercise

Thales : 09 June, 2009  (Company News)
A number of Thales UK’s world-leading sonar systems have been playing a critical role in a major underwater exercise as part of the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) largest overseas deployment for a decade.
As part of the ‘Taurus 09’ deployment, the task group has been taking part in an Anti-Submarine Warfare exercise (ASW) in the Arabian Sea. Thales’s underwater systems were used aboard frigates, helicopters and a submarine.

The exercise scenario was based on RN Type 23 frigate combining their submarine-hunting skills with Merlin helicopters to try to locate and ‘destroy’ an enemy submarine - in this case played by an RN Trafalgar-class submarine.

Some of the most capable and advanced sonar systems produced by Thales have been central to the exercise, including the 2087 surface-ship towed-array sonar, the 2076 submarine sonar, the FLASH Helicopter dipping sonar, and the 2050 bow-mounted active sonar.

HMS Somerset (Type 23 frigate) is fitted with S2087, HMS Talent (Trafalgar-class submarine) operates with S2076, the Merlin helicopters fly with FLASH dipping sonar and HMS Portland (also a Type 23 frigate) is fitted with S2050.

Somerset is one of the latest Type 23s to be fitted with the highly rated S2087, a towed-array system described as ‘impressive’ by the Royal Navy at the start of the deployment.

In the ASW role, the Type 23 frigate combined their active sonar sweeps with the Merlins, operating from the deck of the Helicopter assault ship, HMS Ocean. The Merlins hover over the search area, dipping the FLASH sonar system into the water in an attempt to locate the submarine threat.

Speaking as the exercise got underway, Commanding Officer of the Merlin squadron, Commander Jason Phillips, said: “This extended opportunity for the Merlins of 820 Squadron embarked on HMS Ocean to work with HMS Talent has allowed us to refresh our skills in finding and fighting submarines in different waters away from the UK.”

“The Merlin is a world-beating anti-submarine Helicopter and training such as this means that my aircrew are able to practise using it to full effect.”

Speaking of the exercise’s value, HMS Talent’s commanding officer, Commander Simon Asquith, added: “It will allow us to hone our attack and evasion skills operating against multiple air and surface units. As well as helping Talent’s operational capability, we will be able to offer a worthy opponent to our surface and air colleagues who will be working hard to regenerate their anti-submarine warfare capability.”

Relecting on the roles played by the sonar systems involved in the exercise, Ed Lowe, Managing Director of Thales UK’s naval business, says: “This has been a rare opportunity for Thales sonars 2050, 2087, 2076 and FLASH to demonstrate their capabilites in the same ASW exercise and we are keen to see the results.”

“Thales’s underwater systems business has been developing innovative sonar solutions since the 1940s. Today, our products are currently in use with more than 20 navies around the world.”

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