Thales in the UK has played a vital role in the delivery of the Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) aircraft carrier programme. Alongside the Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems and Babcock, Thales in the UK is a member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance; a unique alliancing relationship established to deliver the QEC programme, consisting of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales – the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy.
Thales is providing technology for both carriers, including the communications systems. The systems, from wireless on-board to satellite connectivity, allow the staff on the ships to talk to each other, the aircraft, the rest of the Navy and associated task groups, as well as allies, civilian vessels and air traffic with complete security, anywhere in the world.
Power and propulsion is a crucial element of the QEC programme. Comprising Rolls Royce, GE Energy and L-3, Thales has led the sub-alliance to deliver a distribution network that will generate enough energy to support both ships – the equivalent of a large town. Collaboration has been a necessity in delivering other requirements too, including for the implementation of the long-range S1850M radar, which has been supplied by Thales in the Netherlands along with BAE Systems.
Thales in the UK has also been involved in the designing of some of the aircraft due to be transported by the carriers; the Merlin Mk2 helicopters, which are fitted with Thales’s Folding Light Acoustic System for Helicopter (FLASH) Dipping Sonar. The FLASH Dipping Sonar allows the helicopters to locate and track submarines in deep and littoral waters, even in high reverberation and noisy conditions. Plus, the Merlin Mk2 helicopters are fitted with Thales’s Cerberus mission system and Searchwater radar as part of the Crowsnest solution, enabling the aircraft to provide the carriers with vital intelligence, surveillance and tracking.
The QEC programme is currently at an exciting phase, with HMS Queen Elizabeth’s vessel acceptance ceremony – attended by Her Majesty The Queen – having recently taken place in Portsmouth. This landmark moment recognised the warship’s entry into service with the Royal Navy, which will last for 50 years.
The official handing over of HMS Queen Elizabeth, from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance to the Royal Navy, is a testament to the engineering capability within the UK, the country’s commitment to global standing and the years of work that have gone into the construction of the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy.
At Thales, we are immensely proud to have played such a significant role in getting HMS Queen Elizabeth ready for service. From the original stage one design to power and propulsion, aviation systems and the communication networks on-board, Thales’s contribution will help the carrier to safely carry out her missions at sea. It has been a remarkable achievement from all of those involved.
Victor Chavez, Chief Executive Officer, Thales UK