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Military

Thales Australian LHD contender proven operationally ready

28 May 2007

Passes interoperability trials with major allies

The French Navy LHD Tonnerre, commissioned in February this year, passed interoperability tests with US Navy and NATO assets. These day and night sea trials conducted off Norfolk, Virginia during April and May included operations with US Navy Launching Craft Air Cushion Vehicles (LCAC), Amphibious Vehicles and helicopters. The LHD Tonnerre demonstrated that she can land, launch, communicate and operate, anywhere in the world alongside Alliance and specifically US and coalition war ships.

Australia will be able to take advantage of full US and NATO interoperability if the Thales Australia offer of the Australianised version of the Mistral class LHD is chosen as the new RAN amphibious ship.

Mistral, and her sister ship Tonnerre are both operational in the French Navy, with Mistral, the first of class, operationally proven in Southern Lebanon. Thales Australia's offer provides a unique opportunity to obtain a state of the art, cutting edge vessel without the risk of an unproven first of class design.

The Australian Defence Force's chosen helicopter, the NH90, is already integrated into the Mistral platform and has also been operationally tested. Given the importance of the NH90 to the Australian Defence Force's future capability needs, it is significant that the Thales Australia offer reduces potential risk by offering a proven solution.

Australia has a strong history of operating in conjunction with the French Navy, with whom it shares many strategic interests in the Pacific region. A choice of the Australianised Mistral class LHD will provide the Royal Australian Navy with the opportunity for exchanges of ideas and operational data, and could even provide the possibility for joint development of additional capability for these ships.

The extent of Australian co-operation with the US means that Thales Australia is offering a ship which provides a fully functioning and integrated solution for the future, fully interoperable with key allies in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

Thales Australia plans to build a significant portion of the LHDs in Australia, creating hundreds of direct and indirect jobs. The associated skills development will also enhance Australian defence industry capabilities in major cities and regional centres.

Thales Australia - Partnering for the security of Australia

About Thales

Thales is a leading international electronics and systems group, serving defence, aerospace and security markets worldwide, supported by a comprehensive services offering. The group's civil and military businesses develop in parallel to serve a single objective: the security of people, property and nations. Leveraging a global network of high-level researchers, Thales offers a capability unmatched in Europe to develop and deploy critical information systems. Thales employs 70, 000 people in 50 countries and generated revenues of € 10.3 billion in 2006, with a record order book of over € 20 billion.



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