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Thales to test cutting-edge sonar on Naval Group’s XL-UUV demonstrator.

According to a PR published by Thales on July 9, 2024, the company is set to test its passive omnidirectional hull-mounted sonar on the Naval Group’s extra-large unmanned underwater vehicle (XL-UUV) demonstrator, a significant step forward in underwater navigation technology.
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XL-UUV demonstrator. (Picture source: Naval Group)

This sonar system is crucial for the autonomous navigation of XL-UUVs, particularly by providing a comprehensive picture of the surface environment during ascent.

The sonar, consisting of a cylindrical panoramic array and an internal unit housing the operating software, aims to enhance navigation safety by delivering detailed surface environment data.

Thales has secured a contract from Naval Group to integrate and test this technology on the ocean drone demonstrator (Démonstrateur Drone Océanique, DDO), developed under the Unmanned Combat Underwater Vehicle (UCUV) program.

This initiative is part of a broader project led by the French defence procurement agency (DGA) to develop and test unmanned combat underwater vehicle technologies.

About the drone

The XL-UUV, initially unveiled in 2021, is 10 meters long and can be extended up to 25 meters with additional batteries or propulsion systems. It has a displacement of 10 tons​. Key features of the XL-UUV include its ability to host a variety of payloads, such as mine countermeasures (MCM) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities. The vehicle's design incorporates a mission bay that can accommodate heavy torpedoes like the F21, allowing for versatile mission profiles​.

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