The French naval aircraft will be equipped with a new active-passive Sonobuoy technology, SonoFlash, developed by Thales.
SonoFlash will be deployed aboard the refurbished Atlantic 2 (ATL2) maritime patrol aircraft and the NH-90 Caïman Marine tactical helicopter. Deliveries will begin in 2025.
In January, General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) awarded Thales a contract for the development, qualification and mass production of the new SonoFlash sonobuoy. It is a strategic tool to complement the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) systems currently deployed by the French Navy.
The SonoFlash will be fully produced in France and based on a subcontracting network involving several French SMEs such as Telerad, Selha and Realmeca.
The company describes SonoFlash as a “sonobuoy that combines the best of both active and passive buoys to provide an optimal low-frequency transmitter, powerful, and a passive receiver with a high gain in directionality.”
Combined with the soaked FLASH sonar in particular, this buoy will enable an aerial platform to carry out research within a greater range of action, while being more responsive to the evasive maneuvers of a submarine. Thanks to its digitized signal and the optimized range of its communications, the data coming from the acoustic buoy can be used from any aircraft, piloted or not, ship or onshore center equipped with a soundbuoy data processing system.