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Scope for success as historic Glasgow firm wins £169m contract for Dreadnought ‘periscopes’

13 July 2023
A Scottish firm which has been providing the Silent Service with their ‘eyes’ since World War 1 has been awarded a £169m contract for periscopes for next-generation Dreadnought submarines.

Thales Glasgow has been selected to provide state-of-the-art ‘optronic masts’ – 21st Century successors to the iconic periscope – for all four future nuclear deterrent submarines (HMS Dreadnought, Valiant, Warspite, and George VI).

The Glasgow arm of the huge international defence firm traces its history back to 1917 and Glaswegian engineering and optical firm Barr and Stroud, who were asked to produce a periscope for new Royal Navy M-class submarines.

Since then the firm, which was taken over by Thales in 2000, has become a world-leader in optics/periscope design and progress through to the modern-day optronic masts.  

These masts - periscopes which do not penetrate a submarine’s hull, but do record a 360-degee digital image for the command team to analyse at their leisure – also provide night vision and thermal imaging and support communications on top of assisting with targeting, navigation and situational awareness.

We are proud to say that our combat system mast and sonar will be providing the eyes and ears capabilities of the new Dreadnought-class.

Alex Cresswell, Chief Executive Officer of Thales UK

Such masts are already fitted to all five Astute-class submarines in service with the Royal Navy (and will be installed on the final two boats in the class, Agincourt and Agamemnon).

The contract for the Dreadnought ‘integrated optronic combat system’ masts for the Dreadnoughts will sustain more than 150 jobs – a fraction of the 30,000 people across the UK involved in the broader programme to deliver the four new submarines.

“We are proud to say that our combat system mast and sonar will be providing the eyes and ears capabilities of the new Dreadnought-class,” said Alex Cresswell, Chief Executive Officer of Thales UK.

“It is an incredibly exciting time for the Submarine Service and its contribution to global security with the build of the Dreadnought class."

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