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Thales to test passive sonar on Naval Group large uncrewed underwater vessel

11th July 2024 - 09:09 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


The passive sonar will support autonomous navigation on XL-UUV. (Photo: Naval Group)

Naval Group’s extra-large uncrewed underwater vessel (XL-UUV) demonstrator, which completed sea qualification in mid-2023, is a key component of the French defence procurement agency’s (DGA’s) Unmanned Combat Underwater Vehicle (UCUV) demonstrator project.

Thales’ passive omnidirectional hull-mounted sonar will be tested on the Naval Group’s XL-UUV ocean drone demonstrator (Démonstrateur Drone Océanique - DDO) which is being developed under the French Navy’s UCUV programme.

The sonar is described by the programme as “a key technology building block for safe, autonomous navigation by an XL-UUV will help to guarantee navigation safety, in particular by providing a comprehensive picture of the surface environment on ascent”.

According to Thales, the passive omnidirectional hull-mounted sonar to be integrated into the demonstrator will comprise a cylindrical panoramic array and an internal unit housing the operating software.

“Together, the array and operating system will provide an accurate, detailed picture of the ocean surface environment to ensure that the underwater vehicle can ascend and surface safely,” the company said. “Thales will assist with integration of the sonar solution on the DDO.”

In December 2023, DGA awarded Naval Group a framework agreement for the design, production and testing of the UCUV demonstrator and a first follow-on contract was also signed for the design and development of Naval Group’s Autonomous Decision-Making Process and secure autonomous navigation.

The framework agreement followed on from a contract awarded to Naval Group in May 2023 for the study of the main use cases and system architecture of an UCUV.

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