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NH90 helicopter deploys FLASH SONICS from Thales

18 June 2007

(Neuilly-sur-Seine, June 18, 2007) -- The FLASH system (Folding Light Acoustic System for Helicopters), a low-frequency active sonar system for helicopters, has been an outstanding success since the early 1990s. In 1992 it was selected for the US Navy's Sea Hawk helicopters and by the British Royal Navy for its Merlin EH101s. It has been in operational service with the British forces for several years, and full-rate production of about 200 systems is underway for the United States.

The system delivers excellent detection, classification and location performance, providing helicopters on Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) missions with an effective capability for tracking and attacking submarines even in the most difficult operational conditions. The FLASH system can be integrated with a sonobuoy processing system, also supplied by Thales, for the NH90 and EH101.

France and Norway have selected FLASH for the ASW version of their NH90 helicopters. Sweden opted for the FLASH-S, a specially adapted version for operations in the Baltic.

For the French NH90 programme, flight testing with the sonar have begun on the first production model of the helicopter for France. The first FLASH SONICS system was delivered to Agusta in July 2005 for platform integration, completing its first test flight on board the NH90 in December 2006. With the maturity of the system established during the American and British programmes, the test campaign produced very satisfactory results as expected. System operators were completely satisfied with the first transmissions.

The second test campaign, in April 2007 allowed to further explore acoustic functions and data recording sequences with a view to making final adjustments to the system. Additional tests with the helicopter manufacturer are planned later this year and official testing is scheduled for early 2008.

Building on the success of the FLASH system, an integrated production platform* has been set up in Brest, Brittany, to produce 30 systems a year starting next year.

* Tours of the production platform can be arranged by the press office.

About Thales

Thales is a leading international electronics and systems group, addressing defence, aerospace and security markets worldwide. Thales's leading-edge technology is supported by 22 000 R&D engineers who offer a capability unmatched in Europe to develop and deploy field-proven mission-critical information systems. To this end, the group's civil and military businesses develop in parallel and share a common base of technologies to serve a single objective: the security of people, property and nations. The group builds its growth on its unique multi-domestic strategy based on trusted partnerships with national customers and market players, while leveraging its global expertise to support local technology and industrial development. Thales employs 68,000 people in 50 countries with forecast 2007 revenues in excess of € 12 billion.

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