Thales will supply the French Navy with a sensor suite comprising Bluewatcher sonar, NS50 radar and an IFF identification system for its new offshore patrol vessels. The first vessel will enter service in 2027.

The French Navy’s new offshore patrol vessels will replace the Estienne d’Orves class of type A69 Avisos and OPV54-class patrol boats. They will operate in French metropolitan waters, primarily across the continental shelf (i.e. to depths of 200 m) and continental slope and rise (to depths of 1,000 m). Designed for long endurance, the new multi-role OPVs will perform escort roles for front-line warships. In particular, they will be dispatched ahead of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) as they leave port to provide intelligence and deterrence and act as scout vessels. They could also be deployed to control maritime areas above and below the surface and defend territories at sea, as well as taking part in missions to evacuate nationals.

These highly innovative and capable Thales systems have already been proven at sea and will enable the new OPVs to accomplish their missions with optimum effectiveness.

The Bluewatcher sonar is a proven system offering high underwater detection performance. With its low-draught design, it is particularly suitable for small vessels operating in shallow waters. The NS50 is the first compact 4D multi-mission AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar for low/medium-tonnage vessels. It provides air and surface surveillance capabilities as well as performing fire control functions for naval guns and missiles. The NS50 provides the highly precise data needed for rapid target acquisition, engagement of short-range fire-and-forget surface-to-air missiles, and fire control functions for engagement of surface threats by naval guns.

Complementing the NS50 radar, Thales’s advanced TSA 3522 IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) interrogator is Mode 5 certified by the US Department of Defense (DoD) AIMS Program Office for deployment on allied operations with NATO forces. This high-reliability system provides a complete cryptographic solution that identifies objects detected by the radar in complete security, and also identifies civil aircraft.