Raytheon, Thales contracted for the Collins-class submarine sonar upgrades

HMAS Collins sails out through the channel in Cockburn Sound at sunrise. Source: navy

Australian branches of global defence contractors Raytheon and Thales will play a leading role in the $542 million project to upgrade the fleet of six Royal Australian Navy Collins-class submarines.

According to an announcement from the Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, the upgrades are starting this year and will see the Australian industry supply 70 per cent of the content, creating more than 100 direct jobs.

While Raytheon Australia and Thales Australia will play lead roles in delivering the sonar system upgrades, ASC and a range of small and medium sized Australian companies will be supporting system integration.

The sonar system upgrades will enable the Collins-class submarines to navigate, detect and locate other vessels better while remaining hidden themselves.

Minister Payne said the upgrades are critical to maintaining Australia’s highly capable Collins Class submarine fleet until the introduction of the Future Submarines.

“The 2016 Defence White Paper clearly outlines the importance of a potent submarine capability to ensure our sovereignty and defend Australia,” Minister Payne said.

In the 2018–19 financial year, most of the spending will be on the design and production effort in NSW with Raytheon Australia based in Macquarie Park and Thales Australia based in Rydalmere in Sydney.

The upgrades will then be installed at maintenance facilities at Osborne in South Australia and Henderson in Western Australia.

Thales announced on Thursday that its contract for the fleet-wide sonar upgrade was worth A$230 million.

Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said his company will carry out the manufacturing and integration work at Thales’s underwater systems centre of excellence in Rydalmere, Western Sydney.

According to the company, the existing Collins’ cylindrical array will be replaced with a Modular Cylindrical Array (MCA) based on Sonar 2076 submarine technology developed by Thales teams in the UK. The existing flank array will be replaced by the latest generation flank array from Thales teams in France.

Thales will work with local industry including Raytheon Australia as the Combat System Integrator to deliver the upgrades for the six submarines integrating products from other Australian providers including Sonartech Atlas, and L3 Oceania.