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Feb. 8 (UPI) — France has awarded Thales a 42-month contract to complete design of a sonar system for the country’s third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.

Two years ago, Thales was awarded a contract by France to develop the linear antenna towed based on optical technology.

Thales said in a release the technology is building on advances in algorithms and the digital revolution in a large antenna system and related processing capabilities.

Thales said the program consolidates its leadership in underwater systems and expands the company’s involvement in major French naval defense programs, including the SNLE second-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, Rubis and Barracuda class nuclear-powered attack submarines, FREMM multi-mission frigates, the ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft upgrade and the SLAM-F mine countermeasures program.

In late 2014, the French Ministry of Defense announced research on third-generation submarines, which would eventually replace the four Le Triomphant-class submarines starting in 2035.

Thales is a French-based company that designs and builds electrical systems and provides services for the aerospace, defense, transportation and security markets.