Royal Navy, Thales trial surface warship sonar software upgrades


French defense and technology company Thales worked with the Royal Navy recently to see if upgrades in submarine sonar systems could be applied on towed array sonars used on surface ships such as the Type 23 frigates.

Sonar 2076 is the Royal Navy’s major sonar platform on all submarines, while the Type 23 frigate anti-submarine warfare fleet is fitted with Sonar 2087.

The two sonars are linked by their software. Novus is a collection of passive sonar algorithms and human computer interface developments already in service with 2076 on board UK submarines.

As explained, there is a high degree of commonality with the major sonar 2087 fitted to the Type 23 frigates, meaning that significant advantages reported in submarines can be trialed in surface ships.

Following the MOD’s investment in the deployment to the fleet of Sonar 2087 technical refresh, the navy has been able to deploy Thales-developed trial software while in Australia.

During DSEi, the First Sea Lord, the navy’s most senior operational officer, outlined a vision to look beyond the platforms, weapon systems, sensors and other technologies to keep the Royal Navy at the forefront of capability for decades to come.

“S2087 is a world class sonar and has plenty of potential for development. This is one such opportunity that has been taken forward by the Maritime Capability and Ships Divisions here in Navy Command HQ, with the support of DE&S and industry. We will continue to look for others,” Commander Richard Hutchings, Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer, Maritime Capability Division, said.

The open architecture, common to both sonars 2076 and 2087, is also the core of the new submarine sonar training facility (Venturer) recently opened at HM Naval Base Clyde.

The Thales-supplied rapidly reconfigurable training technology (RRTT) system has been designed so that it can easily be reconfigured to future upgrades. This will ensure that individual sonar operators train on the right configuration to support specific missions and boats, according to Thales.

Thales said that in time, it could be applied to other naval training, such as naval communications, anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures.