Royal Australian Navy Collins Class Submarines to Receive Sonar Upgrades

Royal Australian Navy’s Collins Class submarines will undergo significant upgrades to its sonar systems through a multi-million dollar contract with Thales Australia.

The two contracts, worth around $23.7 million, are for the design and implementation of the Mine and Obstacle Avoidance Sonar (MOAS) System and the High Frequency Intercept Array (HFIA) for the Collins Class submarine fleet.

This contract expands upon the ongoing sonar upgrade of the Collins Class being rolled out to the fleet which includes a full replacement of the prime sonar arrays of the submarine. The upgrades will enhance the capability of the submarines.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said both the Mine and Obstacle Avoidance System and High Frequency Intercept Array are important parts of the upgrades to the Collins sonar system.

“Our six Collins Class submarines are a highly capable and regionally superior capability that are only halfway through their operational life,” Minister Reynolds said. “To ensure this capability maintains its edge, we are upgrading and improving its systems including through sonar upgrades.”

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said Thales had extensive experience working on the Collins fleet and other Australian-based companies would be engaged throughout the contracts. “These contracts will include about 80 per cent of work being completed by Australian industry,” Minister Price said.

Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said that these new systems will achieve more than 80% Australian Industry Capability and additional export opportunities.

The Heron Mine and Obstacle Avoidance Sonar (MOAS) is an Australian designed and developed system and the result of more than 20 years of investment in Australia by Thales, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Australian Department of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology (DST) to develop sonar systems tailored to Navy’s unique operating requirements.

Mine and obstacle avoidance capability is critical to sustain naval operations due to the rapidly evolving threat of mines, as well as other navigational hazards in the shallow, poorly charted waters that are prevalent throughout Australia’s maritime region.

The Herron system provides enhanced detection, coupled with a low false alarm rate, against dangers ranging from small mine-like objects to reefs, shoals, and hazardous objects like displaced shipping containers.

The High Frequency Intercept Array (HFIA) will enhance the submarine’s ability to detect high frequency emissions like sonars, and emerging undersea threats.

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