Thales supported the official launch of the second Astute-class submarine, HMS Ambush, at the BAE Systems shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness on 16 December. Ambush, a 7,400 tonne nuclear powered attack submarine (SSN), was unveiled and officially named at the Cumbrian-based shipyard, a significant milestone for the Astute-class program.
Lady Anne Soar, Ambush’s sponsor and wife of the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) Commander-in-Chief Fleet, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, performed the ceremony, which was watched by invited guests from the RN, Ministry of Defence (MoD), industry and the Barrow community.
The first submarine, HMS Astute, was officially commissioned into the RN in August 2010. The Astute class are the UK’s biggest SSNs, and one of the most capable military assets in the RN. The Astute-class platform is fitted with a significant number of Thales sensors and systems, including Sonar 2076, a fully integrated, passive/active search and attack submarine sonar suite.
The boat is also fitted with two Thales non-hull penetrating CM010 optronic masts, which together with Sonar 2076, effectively provide the submarine with its eyes and ears. The optronic mast replaces conventional hull-penetrating optical periscope systems with a non-hull penetrating, electronic imaging system and uses an electronic link from high-resolution cameras in the sensor head to present the surface picture on console screens in the submarine’s operations centre.
Thales also supplies the UAP4 electronic support measures (ESM) system, which has two multi-function antenna arrays mounted on the masts. These are designed to monitor the electronic environment around the submarine, to provide situational awareness of other platforms equipped with radar systems operating in the area.
Other Thales equipment includes the ECB680 communications and SEEPIRB emergency beacon buoys and an Ultra High frequency (UHF) satellite communications antenna.
As prime contractor, BAE Systems is building a total of seven Astute-class submarines. Thales is contracted to supply Sonar 2076 and other equipment for the first four boats – Astute, Ambush, Artful and Audacious.