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Thales KINGKLIP Mk2: The Next Gen Hull Mounted Sonar of the French Navy FTI Frigates

Naval Technology - Thales Kingklip Mk2 Sonar
Thales KINGKLIP Mk2: The Next Gen Hull Mounted Sonar of the French Navy FTI Frigates
Unveiled at Euronaval 2016 by Naval Group (formerly DCNS) and the French MoD, the FTI (frégate de taille intermédiaire or mid-size frigate) is the next generation of surface combatant of the French Navy (Marine Nationale). This class of 5 Frigates (marketed for export as the Belh@rra by Naval Group) features many innovations. One of which is a next generation of hull mounted sonar designed by Thales: The Kingklip Mk2.
KINGKLIP Mk2 Sonar Thales FTI 1FTI scale model at Euronaval 2016.
Contacted by Navy Recognition, Thales Underwater Systems explained that the new sonar is based on the proven Kingklip (UMS 4132) medium frequency active and passive hull-mounted sonar for medium surface vessels. Kingklip has already been selected by the South African and Algerian Navies (Meko A200 class), the Indonesian and Royal Moroccan Navies (Sigma class), the United Arab Emirates Navy (Abu Dhabi class), the Royal Malaysian and Egyptian Navies (Gowind class)...

The Kingklip Mk2 features a number of improvements including a directional emission capability, improved detection performances, modernized HMI (Human Machine Interface)...

The detection performance of the sonar has been improved thanks to a lower sonar central frequency. Thales used the 4110 bow sonar antenna transducers (fitted on the FREMM frigates) as they offer growth potential for multi-static operations with variable depth sonar (CAPTAS familly) , airborne sonars (Flash), and sono buoys. The detection performance is also improved thanks to the 3rd generation Adaptive Beam Forming (ABF), which significantly reduces carrier noise as well as ambient noise.

The HMI has been modernized to provide the operator with new features and a more user-friendly and intuitive interface.

Last but not least, there is only one electronic bay for the emission and reception functions, compared to two bays for the Kingklip Mk1. This saves valuable space and weight on the ship, simplifying installation and logistics operations.
KINGKLIP Mk2 Hull Mounted Sonar ThalesView of the FREMM bow mounted sonar (left, French Navy picture) and the Kingklip Mk2 (right, Thales picture).
Thales added that the Kingklip Mk2, like the Mk1, is usually positioned on the hull. However as far as the FTI Frigate is concerned, the sonar will be fitted inside the bow, just like the 4110 aboard the FREMM.

While scale models of the FTI and Belharra unviled at Euronaval 2016 featured a "sonar dome" at the bottom of the hull, a Naval Group source confirmed to Navy Recognition that the French Navy FTI are set to feature a "bow sonar" (similar to the FREMM) as opposed to a "hull mounted" sonar as shown on the Euronaval models.

Thales already conducted tests of the Kingklip Mk2 but added that its development is ongoing as part of the FTI programme. The sonar is expected to be fitted on the La Fayette class frigates as well, as part of their upgrade programme. The Mk2 will eventually be available to export customers while the Kingklip Mk1 remains available is still being procured for several navies shipbuilding programmes.
Image courtesy of DGA
About the FTI
The French Defence Ministry announced the attribution to DCNS (now Naval Group) of a contract for the development and construction of five FTI (Frégate de Taille Intermédiaire or mid-size frigate) surface combatant intended for the French Navy in April this year. The first of the five frigates from this DGA-managed programme should be delivered in 2023 with an entry into active duty in 2025.

The FTI will have a displacement of about 4200 tonnes with a crew of 125 sailors. It will be capable of anti-submarine warfare, anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare as well as the support of special forces missions.

The prime contractor is DCNS while Thales is set to supply a number of brand new, next-gen systems:
- The CAPTAS-4 Compact sonar
- The SEA FIRE radar
- Aquilon integrated naval communication system
- The SENTINEL electronic warfare system

Safran Electronics & Defense will supply a new electro-optical FCS, the PASEO XLR.

Provisional configuration (to be confirmed):
76mm main gun
2x Narhwal 20mm remote guns
8x Exocet MM40 Blk III anti-ship missiles
2x Sylver A70 launchers for 16x Aster 30 missiles
Space for 2x extra Sylver A70 launchers
MU90 torpedoes
Hangar for one NH90 helicopter and one UAV
KINGKLIP Mk2 Sonar Thales FTI 2Belharra scale model at Euronaval 2016.