LONDON, 6 May 2008. Royal Navy's new Astute class submarines will use Thales U.K.'s non-hull penetrating, optronic mast. The state-of-the-art electro-optic system will allow greater flexibility in boat design and provide improved surface visibility without giving away the position of the submarine. The optronic mast will be powered by Wind River VxWorks mission-critical real-time operating system (RTOS).
The Astute submarines will patrol the world's oceans with minimum risk of being detected by surface ships and other submarines. It will deploy a number of technologies to reduce its sonar signature.
Submarines are most vulnerable to detection when the submarine commander uses a periscope to assess the situation on the surface. The Thales state-of-the-art optronic mast minimizes this risk by deploying a non-hull penetrating design, which enables the Sensor Head Unit (SHU) to be extended from the submarine fin, and rapidly perform a 360-degree scan above the surface, enabling the commander to analyze the image data afterwards.
The optronic mast will use Wind River VxWorks mission-critical real-time operating system (RTOS) running on Thales quad PowerPC AltiVec COTS boards and AdaCore GNAT Pro to power the stabilization system (high-performance 3 axis to sub-pixel accuracies), video and thermal camera control, communication with the in-hull systems, and control all the mechanisms and motors in the SHU.
The SHU is a pressure-proof, electro-optical assembly that contains high-performance cameras, optics, environmental sensors and stabilization mechanisms.