Thales UK’s state-of-the-art Sonar 2087 – fitted to a Royal Navy (RN) Type 23 frigate – has played a vital role in a major international anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise in the Gulf of Oman.
HMS Westminster and a Trafalgar-class submarine led the RN’s involvement in Exercise Arabian Shark, a test of Coalition navies to deal with submarines in the Arabian Sea. During the exercise, the RN described the combined ASW capabilities of the ship and helicopter sonar as being ‘the best in the world’.
Westminster is one of seven Type 23 ships fitted with Sonar 2087, a towed array system that enables frigates to hunt the latest submarines at considerable distances and locate them beyond the range from which they can launch an attack.
This type of frigate also carries the Merlin helicopter that is fitted with the Thales FLASH dipping sonar. The combination of 2087 and FLASH makes the Type 23 a formidable anti-submarine warfare operator.
The 2087 system is a low frequency active sonar, consisting of both active and passive sonar arrays. The system is manufactured at Thales sites in the UK (Cheadle Heath in Manchester and Templecombe in Somerset) and France (Brest).
During the exercise, the Royal Navy described Westminster as having ‘the best submarine-hunting helicopter in the world (an 829 Naval Air Squadron Merlin) and the world’s best submarine-hunting sonar (2087).’
The British duo joined warships from the USA, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan for the exercises which have been held in the Middle East region on a regular basis for the past decade. The exercise involved the ASW surface ships trying to ‘sink’ the hunter-killer submarines, while simultaneously trying to avoid being sunk by their stealthy submariner counterparts. The main aims of the exercise were to strengthen military relationships and improve war-fighting techniques of all the navies involved.
Lt Thom Hobbs, Westminster’s Principal Warfare Officer (Underwater) said:
“Arabian Shark was a significant international exercise allowing the strong bonds between the participating nations to be reinforced. We are working together to ensure security and stability at sea.”
Phil Naybour, head of Thales UK’s naval business, said:
“Thales is proud to be the major supplier of state-of-the-art submarine-hunting sonar to the UK Royal Navy. Our latest Sonar 2087 provides the RN with phenomenal ASW capability.”