Mine warfare: in Japan, Thales and MHI combine their sonar on a drone


As part of the existing Franco-Japanese bilateral defense agreement, the two countries have signed the second phase of the cooperation project which involves the development by Thales and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) of a sonar demonstrator dual frequency for mine action, installed on an autonomous drone.

While mines, or even the only possibility of the presence of mines, today constitute a potential threat at sea for all ships, it becomes vital to provide an effective response to this problem in order to ensure the free movement of key corridors. for trade, and at the same time guarantee maritime access and the projection of forces. These guarantees are particularly important for countries with high value facilities or ports with high volume of commercial traffic. In response to the growing threat posed by mines laid on the seabed, or those that are buried or semi-buried in coastal areas, the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) and Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) have decided to study together the performance of a dual frequency sonar technology constituting a real innovation in this field.

To carry out this project, the two countries have chosen MHI and Thales, which share recognized technological excellence and whose expertise here is complementary. This agreement is also an opportunity for the two companies to strengthen a continuous and fruitful collaboration. World leader in mine action with more than 300 systems in service worldwide, Thales will provide its expertise in sonar processing, with SAMDIS, the latest generation of high-frequency synthetic aperture sonars, which offers multiple capacities. For its part, MHI will supply its low-frequency synthetic aperture sonar, and the OZZ-5 drone.

The intelligent integration of these high and low frequency sonars, combined with combined automatic detection capabilities and a classification function, will provide high level performance as part of a single solution, mutually benefiting imaging processing capabilities of each system. The result is an autonomous mine action system capable of detecting, classifying and locating all types of threats – from buried mines to landmines.

This agreement also marks the launch of a five-year project for the design, development and integration of a dual-frequency sonar processing system, with offshore experiments conducted in Japan and France. It is therefore the materialization of several years of efforts carried out in cooperation between the DGA, ATLA, Thales and MHI, with a view to building a project capable of meeting the requirements of the French Navy and the maritime self-defense force. Japanese. It is also the means for the two nations to remain at the forefront of innovation in autonomous mine action systems.

Alexis Morel, vice-président Underwater Systems, Thales : “Thales is very proud to contribute to this first Franco-Japanese defense cooperation project, alongside our partner MHI. We are eager to be able to apply our expertise, widely demonstrated in operational conditions, with our high frequency sonar SAMDIS, which will benefit the French and Japanese defense forces through this unique cooperation for safer seas. ”

Cyrille Dupont, President and CEO, Thales in Japan: “In Japan, Thales is committed to establishing long-term, sustainable partnerships with the country’s key players and manufacturers. This extensive partnership with MHI attests to our commitment to Japan and our desire to strengthen bilateral ties between the two nations. I am confident that our technologies and close collaboration will provide unique and innovative solutions that will enhance the capabilities of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, laying the foundation for local expertise for the future. “

Thales press release, 03/30/21

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