During the three-month long deployment of the FREMM frigate Aquitaine, the implementation crew for the NH90 helicopter from 33F Squadron had an opportunity to experience the operational capabilities of the FLASH SONICS system.
The FLASH system (Folding Light Acoustic System for Helicopters) is an active low-frequency airborne sonar that has been requested by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) for the French Navy’s new anti-submarine warfare helicopters to detect and track opposing force submarines. The key benefits of this sonar include long-range detection with broad sector coverage and low false alarm rates in open ocean as well as littoral waters. Associated with an active and passive sonobuoy processing system, FLASH SONICS provides an unparalleled airborne anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability and is designed for easy integration on board helicopters.
This first long-term mission for a FREMM was an opportunity for French Navy crews to experience first-hand the detection ranges and processing capacities of FLASH SONICS. The NH90 helicopter’s ASW capabilities complement and extend those of the frigate’s Captas-4 towed array sonar and UMS 4110 hull-mounted sonar, which are also supplied by Thales. Lieutenant Commander Jérôme Dubois, who commanded the Caiman detachment during this long deployment, stated: “As well as delivering exceptional performance, the FLASH SONICS system has significantly raised the bar in terms of human-system interface technology and operational data processing.”
Photo courtesy of Marine Nationale