Thales signs new Merlin support contract with Lockheed Martin

Thales UK has signed a new contract with Lockheed Martin UK for the next five-year phase of the existing 25-year Integrated Merlin Operational Support (IMOS) programme.
This new contract covers the period April 2011 to March 2016 and continues to provide an availability-based support package for the acoustic sub-system for the Merlin Mk1 and Mk2 helicopters operated by the Royal Navy.
The Merlin’s acoustic sub-system comprises the Folding Light Acoustic System for Helicopters (FLASH) Active Dipping Sonar, combined with a sonics sub-system for sonobuoy processing. FLASH is the Royal Navy’s principal airborne sensor system for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and also equips the US Navy MH60-R ASW helicopters, French, Norwegian and Swedish NFH90s and is in service with the United Arab Emirates in the Cougar helicopter.
The IMOS contract ensures the availability of depot stock levels to support the Royal Navy’s forward fleet by providing service management, supply support, technical support and equipment performance analysis.
This period of support will see the replacement of the Thales sonics sub-system by a phased introduction of the Thales acoustic sub-system as part of the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme, which introduces a new common acoustic processor incorporating the latest processing technology. Thales’s naval business facility at Brest will continue to be the main sub-contractor for the FLASH Active Dipping Sonar sub-system.
Phil Naybour, head of Thales UK’s naval business, said: "The FLASH dipping sonar is a proven world-class sonar system and an integral part of the Merlin’s outstanding ASW capability. This contract continues Thales’s long-term commitment to provide efficient and effective support solutions through a partnered approach with Lockheed Martin and the Royal Navy."
The FLASH sensor is designed for deep and shallow water ASW operations and is proven in worldwide littoral environments. FLASH is the most versatile ASW sensor for use in support of operations conducted by independent warships or task groups. The system offers the best optimisation between mechanical performance (weight, volume) and acoustic performance (optimal frequency).