Thales UK celebrates periscope milestone

Posted on 30 Sep 2017 and read 1049 times
Thales UK celebrates periscope milestoneGovan-based Thales UK ( is celebrating 100 years of being the sole supplier of periscopes and optronics masts to the Royal Navy (RN).

The company delivered its first submarine periscope (the FY1) to the submarine M3 in late summer 1917; since then, every class of RN submarine has been fitted with a periscope or optronics mast designed and built by its engineers in Glasgow.

Today, the company’s ‘state of the art’ optronics masts support the navigation, warfare and communications systems, and they are supplied with thermal-imaging and night-vision capabilities.

The masts can complete a full 360deg sweep of the horizon in only a few seconds, providing high-definition images of the battle space to commanders.

Defence Procurement Minister Harriett Baldwin said: “This anniversary marks a proud record of Scottish engineering contributing directly to the UK’s defence and national security by providing the eyes and ears for our nuclear deterrent and attack submarines.

"Generations of highly skilled engineers across Scotland have applied battle-winning technologies to meet the needs of the armed forces, as well as exporting their innovations to dozens of navies around the world.”

Victor Chavez, the CEO of Thales UK, said: “Arguably, our greatest single innovation was introducing a night-vision capability to allow submarines to navigate and gather intelligence 24/7.

"However, our latest remote-control non-hull-penetrating optronics systems give naval architects more design flexibility by not restricting them to co-locating the fin and the control room via a 50ft-long periscope.

"These options, combined with the digital inboard control and display system, give commanders a leap forward in submarine capability.”

Optronics masts are electronic imaging systems that do not penetrate a submarine’s hull but are contained in the conning tower or ‘fin’.

They are fitted to all seven of the new Astute-class submarines, the first three of which are already in service (operating from HM Naval Base Clyde).

Thales is currently bidding competitively to have its optronics masts in the new Dreadnought submarines that will come into service in the 2030s. The company will conduct sea trials of its latest mast next year.

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