Lockheed Martin UK awarded Thales UK an “intention to proceed” contract to upgrade the acoustics system of in-service EH101 Merlin HM Mk1 helicopters operated by the Royal Navy. Worth £27 million ($50 million), the contract covers 30 aircraft with an option for eight more. The contract is part of the £750 million ($1.4 billion) Merlin Capability Sustainment Plus program, which has the goal of extending the Merlin’s operational life to 2029.
Thales UK’s underwater systems antisubmarine warfare airborne group in Stockport, England, will accomplish the upgrade along with airborne group elements in Brest, France. Advances made by Thales(Hall 3 Stand C5; Hall 4 Stand C16c) in dipping sonar and sonobuoy processing are expected to improve submarine detection in shallow water, a noisy environment where anti-submarine warfare operations are difficult.