Safran Electronics & Defense is a world leader in inertial navigation systems. In this particularly advanced technology, the group’s Electronics & Defense company offers navies around the world high-performance solutions for demanding situations in the harshest environments.
The range of marine navigation systems produced by Safran Electronics & Defense covers all operational needs from heading reference units to cruise missile INS initialisation. Safran’s dynamic R&D policy has resulted in unparalleled expertise and solid patents in two key technologies, namely the ring laser gyro, or RLG, also known as a gyrolaser; and the hemispherical resonator gyro, or HRG.
The core sensors for Safran navigation systems are produced at the group’s ultra-modern Coriolis plant at Montluçon in central France. The new-build plant was designed to meet the most technologically challenging needs both now and into the future.
Supported by key French Navy programmes, Safran Electronics & Defense has also built up its expertise through long-term relationships with other naval forces, accompanying both operational personnel and prime contractors at each technological turning point.
Safran was recently chosen to supply Sigma 40XP gyrolaser navigation systems for France’s next-generation Barracuda SSNs. In the light of this and other successes — not least its selection for the Royal Australian Navy’s SEA1000 submarine programme, Safran sees the Sigma 40XP as the gold standard in submarine navigation now and for the next 30 years.
The precision and reliability of the Sigma 40 family were amply demonstrated in the course of recent military exercises in the Mediterranean and Middle East. These qualities are essential to the onboard systems carried by submarines and surface combatant alike. After modernising the navigation system of CVN Charles de Gaulle, Safran went on to install Sigma 40 gyrolasers on the French Navy’s FREMM frigates and DCNS-designed Gowind corvettes. Right now, the focus is on preparatives for France’s next-generation frigates that are expected to replace the La Fayette class from 2023.
On the international market, Safran has supplied navigation systems for South Korea’s FFX frigates, PKX patrol vessels and LHDs, the Norwegian Navy’s Ula submarines and Skjold- and Nordkapp-class patrol boats, the UAE’s Baynunah-class corvettes and India’s future Vikrant aircraft carrier and new-generation frigates. Worldwide, over 500 surface vessels and 75 submarines are equipped with Sigma 40 systems.
Apart from the Sigma 40 gyrolaser family, Safran has developed and, since 2012, produced the BlueNaute® family of navigation systems based on the hemispherical resonator gyro technology for heading and vertical reference units. With the HRG technology now ‘space proven’ and having demonstrated an MTBF (mean time between failures) in excess of 100,000 hours along with the ruggedness required to operate reliably in severe environments (extreme temperatures, shock and vibration), Safran’s HRG products are set for continuing success. Major contracts won to date include those for the US Coast Guard’s Reliance-class cutters and Juniper-class buoy tenders, Canada’s planned Harry de Wolf-class OPVs and Norway’s Harstad- and Nornen-class patrol boats.
To date, some 40 navies have chosen Safran navigation systems; every one of them reporting complete satisfaction with product quality, reliability and performance.
Safran’s leadership in naval navigation systems echoes its success in similar systems for land-based and aerospace applications. The French group is the only one in the world to produce and market such a broad spectrum of navigation systems.