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Surface Navy 2023: US Navy frigate variable depth sonar focus shifts to manufacturing

With US Navy (USN) Constellation-class guided-missile frigate (FFG 62) shipbuilding under way, Thales' Advanced Acoustic Concepts is now looking to ramp up its own manufacturing capacity and resources for the ships' combined active/passive towed-array sonar (CAPTAS) variable depth sonar system, according to Mark Bock, vice-president of Advanced Acoustic Concepts for Strategy and Business Development.

“We are standing up US manufacturing,” Bock told Janes on 10 January during the Surface Navy Association (SNA) national symposium.

The variable depth sonar system will have to be ready in time to ensure the frigates' on-time delivery and operational commitments, he said.

“When it goes to sea, it must be fully functional. That is not a challenge, but it is incumbent on us,” he said.

The sonar sensor and system have already been tested and operational internationally, with all the US system components having reached technical readiness level (TRL) 9, he added. “They are all deployed and have reached IOC [initial operational capability]. Reintegration is not a big challenge, we've done that all before,” Bock said.

He acknowledged this was the first time the system would be installed on the USN class of ship as its primary anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability.

However, he added, “About 10 years ago, we put a forerunner of this system on a [USN] vessel of opportunity and put to sea, to prove to the navy the system would work. It is already a mature and fielded capability in the international community.”

Following the vessel-of-opportunity at-sea testing, the system was successfully tested at sea on Littoral Combat Ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) in 2014.

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