In 2003, Thales UK received a 10-year contract to support the Royal Navy’s major sonar systems worth about GBP 100 million over the first 5 years. Over that period, equipment readiness rates have improved, and some overall savings have been achieved in the cost of support. With that kind of initial experience under their belts, the usual process under Britain’s “future contracting for avilability” initiatives has been to extend and broaden the contract, in preparation for a a future contract that features full availability-based contracting for the item in question.
The UK MoD/ Thales UK ‘Integrated Support Team – Sonar’ at Abbey Wood, Bristol have now done exactly that, finalizing a second 5-year term for GBP 134 million, while broadening its scope. The contract now covers the Sonar 2054 systems fitted to the UK’s SSBN Vanguard Class nuclear missile submarines, the Sonar 2074 / 2076 systems fitted to Britain’s SSN Swiftsure Class and Trafalgar Class fast attack submarines, mine-hunting Sonar 2093 / 2193 systems, and the new Sonar 2087 low-frequency active sonar (LFAS) upgrade being fitted to Britain’s Type 23 Duke Class frigates. Note that Britain’s new Type 45 Daring Class air defense destroyers, who will depend on the MFS 7000 sonar array from Ultra Electronics and EDO, remain outside this contract.
The total value of Thales UK’s 10-year sonar support contract is now over GBP 230 million. Thales UK will leverage its 300-perseon facility at Cheadle Heath near Manchester, which designs and builds sonar, as well as the 400-person Templecombe facility in Somerset, which manufactures mine hunting sonar systems and outboard arrays. Thales release.
In December 2005, “Beyond Armaris: Thales “Buys” Minority Stake in DCN” covered the government-prodded merger of Thales naval business with state-owned DCN, to create DCNS. That agreement excluded some naval items like electronics, but it did include Thales’ 24% share in Eurotorp, the European lightweight torpedo consortium that was officially founded in 1993 as a joint venture between DCN International (26%), Thomson-CSF (now Thales, 24%) and Whitehead (now Finmeccanica, 50%).
The DCNS transaction was not concluded until March 2007, and now the Eurotorp consortium has taken the next step by creating a more wide-ranging set of joint ventures in underwater weapons systems. The longer-term goal remains European integration, and the 3 CEOs have said they would consider opening the alliance to other European players at some point…
3D sonar firm FarSounder, Inc. in Warwick, RI has receicved a $2 million, 2.75 year grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for work to develop a Forward Looking 3D Sonar System for Navigation and Collision Avoidance for Long Range and High Speed Applications. In order to improve the efficiency and safety of marine cargo transport, FarSounder plans to develop a forward looking navigation and collision avoidance sonar system, providing real-time 3-dimensional location (bearing, range, depth) of obstacles at distances up to 3.2 km (2 miles) for vessels traveling at up to 35 knots.
There is no other technology known to DID that is capable of providing navigation and obstacle avoidance information out to these significant distances and speeds. FarSounder’s release says “this project opens up new possibilities in marine navigation by addressing the economic, safety and environmental problems associated with large vessel operations.” This is true, but the benefits could be just as big for brown-water/littoral ships, submarines, unmanned UUVs, and Special Forces insertion devices (short of the supercavitating “Underwater Express”).
Observers often note the spiraling price of aircraft and helicopters, without considering the rising cost of the equipment that goes into them. A recent contract offers an excellent illustration of that dynamic in action.
Aug 15/07: Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a $951.7 million finalization modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract (N00019-06-C-0098). This definitization effort will result in a firm-fixed-price multiyear contract for the procurement of 139 MH-60R Mission Avionics Systems, covering FY 2007 (Lot 5) through FY 2011 (Lot 9). When combined with advance procurement contracts from January and May 2006 totaling $113.6 million, the total value of this multi-year contract rises to $1.065 billion – $7.66 million per set. It could have been $8.58 million each…
Lockheed Martin announced 2 U.S. Navy contracts worth $20.6 million to provide integration engineering and engineering support to Navy ship upgrades installing the AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 undersea warfare system. Under the terms of the contracts, AEGIS-equipped cruisers and destroyers will be updated to the latest AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 configuration. The U.S. Navy’s goal is to achieve a single, common configuration to reduce system life cycle costs, while allowing for faster improvements. To that end, the latest version employs an open architecture approach using state-of-the-art commercial computing technology rather than custom-designed military-specific components, in order to achieve major performance gains over previous designs at reduced cost.
Lockheed Martin retains its teaming arrangement with Advanced Acoustic Concepts, Inc., a key developer and integrator of many of the functional performance improvements to the AN/SQQ-89 since 1999, and of the system’s test bed. Lockheed Martin’s Undersea Systems facility in Syracuse, NY and Advanced Acoustic Concepts, Inc. in Uniontown, PA, will manage the contracts,
In service for over 25 years, the AN/SQQ-89 is the undersea warfare combat system installed on all of the Navy’s CG-47 Ticonderoga Class cruisers and DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers. Using a variety of underwater sensors including a hull-mounted sonar, a towed array sonar, a sonobuoy processing system, et. al. the system detects, classifies and localizes submarines and other undersea threats. It is integrated with the Lockheed Martin-produced AEGIS Combat System, providing a fire-control system to launch weapons against undersea targets it finds. Lockheed Martin release.
In response, one of the early-stage Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) approaches involves thinking entirely outside the sonar box. We talk about “submariner dolphins” – but maybe the creature they really need to emulate is the shark. Now a recent contract indicates that the US military is making real progress toward that goal…
In underwater warfare, sound is life. The side that hears first often wins, and one of the tools used to help improve the odds is the towed array, a set of listening devices on a wire that helps to eliminate an natural acoustic “deaf spot,” and gives its submarine a longer baseline and more sensors to listen with.
U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC ordered two TB-33 fiber optic thin-line towed-array submarine sonar systems from manufacturer Chesapeake Science Corp. in Millersville, MD, under a $15.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract for the continued development of the TB-33/BQ Fiber Optic Thin-Line Sensor System. The contract also calls for Chesapeake to provide training, test equipment, and 3D mock-up devices. Work will be performed in Greensboro, NC (48%), Stonington, CT (27%), and Millersville, MD (25%) and is expected to be complete by September 2009.This contract was not competitively procured.
Engineers at Chesapeake are developing the TB-33 array to provide the same capability as the existing thin-line TB-29 array, but with significantly improved reliability. The TB-29 is a thin line towed array for SSN-688 Los Angeles and SSN-774 Virginia Class attack submarines that reportedly offers greater use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts, increased acoustic performance and improved combat control capabilities, while replacing obsolete equipment in earlier arrays. The TB-29 is also longer than the previous thin-line TB-23, and has a sensor-location system.
Saab Underwater Systems will upgrade all of the Royal Danish Navy’s Double Eagle UUV(unmanned underwater vehicles). The order is worth more than SEK 100 million including options (about $13.7 million). The Double Eagle Systems are remotely operated underwater vehicles used for mine hunting and other operations, and Denmark ordered Saab’s Mk.II version in the mid 1990s for use from their SF300 Standard Flex ships.
The contract includes upgrades to the electronic system and next-generation sensor systems. The upgraded Double Eagle Mk.III systems will be prepared for SAROV configuration, which means that the vehicles can be operated as fully autonomous Unmanned Underwater Vehicles. The Royal Danish Navy’s Naval Materiel Command and Saab have also agreed to collaborate on future studies, development, tests and operational improvements of the Double Eagle System, which is also being delivered to Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Thales UK has been awarded a GBP 30 million contract (about $55 million) for a major enhancement to the Trafalgar Class and new SSN Astute Class submarine sonar suites as the lead sonar provider and lead system integrator. Designated the Sonar 2076 Stage 5 programme, this upgrade will replace the existing inboard processing equipment with an open architecture COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) based processing system. The Stage 5 programme will be managed, developed and deployed by the Thales UK underwater systems business in Cheadle Heath, Manchester.
This upgrade builds on the successfully deployed 2076 Stage 4 system that serves aboard SSN Trafalgar Class attack submarines, and forms a key element in the UK Ministry of Defence Common Core Combat System initiative (CCCS) championed by the MoD Integrated Project Teams (ASM, UWS and Sub IPTs). Partners in the Sonar 2076 prograsm include Ultra Electronics (consoles).