In conversation with naval newsThales Senior Sales Manager for Asia, François Merlo, explained the possibilities of the SonoFlash and the export prospects on the international market.
“The SonoFlash is unique in that it integrates both active and passive low frequency sonars into a single system. It is 3-4 times more effective than the Directional Command Activated Sonobuoy System in terms of coverage.”
Francois Merlo, Thales Senior Sales Manager for Asia
“We see this as one of the greatest advantages of the system. Due to its small size, it can be deployed from restricted platforms such as drones.‘ Merlo said.
Thales won in January 2021 a DGA (French Defense Agency) contract for the development, qualification and mass production of the new SonoFlash Sonobuje. This groundbreaking active-passive sonobuje is a strategic tool to complement the ASW systems currently deployed by the French Navy, offering France a sovereign solution for high-performance acoustic buoys. According to Merlo, the SonoFlash should be ready for export by 2025.
“The system is currently in the industrialization phase, production is scheduled to take place in a few years. Our first customer will most likely be the French Navy. Since this platform is so new, we need to first explain the concept to potential international customers like South Korea. Still, we think the ROKN will likely care. The ROKN already operates our company’s dive sonar. We are willing to do a “demonstration plan” if the ROKN is interested.‘ added Merlo.
Thales and SonarTech of South Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding at DX Korea on September 21st. Given that, it’s likely that the two companies will collaborate on SonoFlash if South Korea decides to buy it.
The SonoFlash was first presented at Euronaval 2018. The French armaments procurement authority commissioned Thales to “develop, qualify and manufacture” the SonoFlash. Since then, the program has made progress, with Spanish SA Electronica Submarina agrees to integrate Thales’ new SonoFlash sonobuje into its acoustic sonobuoy processor in 2021.
Thales Sono-Flash is based on Thales Australia’s Barra sonobuoy system, a standardized Type A sonobuoy approximately 1m long and 10cm in diameter.