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Thales contracted to deliver Royal Navy's new airborne surveillance and control capability
 
Thales contracted to deliver Royal Navy s new airborne surveillance and control capability 640 001
Thales and Lockheed Martin announce the contract award to deliver the Royal Navy’s new airborne surveillance and control system, under the ‘CROWSNEST’ programme. Lockheed Martin, who acts as the Ministry of Defence’s prime contractor for the Merlin helicopter, selected a new generation of the Thales Searchwater radar and Cerberus mission system to be fitted to existing Merlin Mk2s helicopters to provide the Navy with an airborne surveillance and control capability (ASaC).
 
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Naval Industry Industry News - Thales
 
 
 
Thales contracted to deliver Royal Navy's new airborne surveillance and control capability
 
Thales and Lockheed Martin announce the contract award to deliver the Royal Navy’s new airborne surveillance and control system, under the ‘CROWSNEST’ programme. Lockheed Martin, who acts as the Ministry of Defence’s prime contractor for the Merlin helicopter, selected a new generation of the Thales Searchwater radar and Cerberus mission system to be fitted to existing Merlin Mk2s helicopters to provide the Navy with an airborne surveillance and control capability (ASaC).
     
Thales contracted to deliver Royal Navy s new airborne surveillance and control capability 640 001CROWSNEST FlightTrials
(Credit: Leonardo Helicopters)
     
The contract formally marks the beginning of the design and manufacture of role-fit equipment to be fitted to the fleet of Merlin helicopters which will serve the Royal Navy until 2029 and replace the outgoing Sea King Mark 7 ASaC force, fitted with an earlier version of the Thales Searchwater and Cerberus systems.

"The next generation of this battle-proven capability represents a step change in our ability to offer innovative solutions to our customers in maritime airborne surveillance. To see this battle proven capability now transition into the future, to provide critical force protection to the Royal Navy surface fleet, including the UK’s new aircraft carriers, is a significant milestone," said Victor Chavez, CEO Thales in the UK.

The new capability will begin to enter service when the last of the Sea King ASaC helicopters are retired and will maximise the re-use of the Ministry of Defence’s existing investment in equipment, training and expertise by upgrading, updating and adapting a battle proven capability. The new generation of CROWSNEST represents a step change in both user functionality and operational capability. An improved human machine interface utilising touch screen technology and an autonomous artificial intelligence based tracking system provide the users with a highly innovative approach to the demands of modern maritime warfare. The new system offers the operator vastly improved target identification, the ability to library match airborne contacts, as well as introducing inverse synthetic aperture radar and a fully integrated electronic support measures.

Operators are also able to exploit collected data more effectively through a greatly enhanced mission recording and replay system that allows both real time and post mission data reconstruction. The upgraded, updated, and adapted Thales Searchwater radar and Cerberus mission system will now continue into the future to provide critical force protection to Joint forces, including the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

Update 17/01/2017:
Contacted by Navy Recognition, Thales confirmed:
10 role kits will be delivered to the Royal Navy. A role kit consists in:
- Mission subsystem including operator console
- Radar subsystem
- Radome deployment mechanism

30 Merlin Mk2 helicopters will be modified with fixed fittings to accept the role kits.