Crawley-based Thales provides communications upgrade to HMS Queen Elizabeth

Crawley-based Thales has completed an extensive naval communications upgrade on board HMS Queen Elizabeth that will enable the Royal Navy to establish an additional command operations centre on board to direct wider task group operations.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 11:20 am
Updated Monday, 24th May 2021, 11:22 am

The Communications Management System upgrade has been completed before HMS Queen Elizabeth sets sail as the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21).

As well as operating as an aircraft carrier, one of the key capabilities of the ship will be able to act as a key focus of command for the CSG21 multi-nation task groups and inter-navy training that will be such a critical feature of 2021 operations.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy. The warship is capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft and a maximum crew of around 1,600 personnel, which includes the regular ship’s company and embarked forces, including the Air Wing.

HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth on May 1. Picture by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Winston Mahaffy, managing director of Thales’ naval communications business said: “We are extremely proud to have worked alongside the Royal Navy and MOD to upgrade HMS Queen Elizabeth with its initial communications system which was world leading.

“But this upgrade takes the carrier’s capability to a whole new level, enabling the carrier as a cutting edge command platform for both the Royal Navy and other navies which is such an essential feature of international naval operations today.

“Completing the upgrade before CSG21 was a time critical factor, where it will require embarking Battle staff and Commander Task Group who will command the group and others during multi-national exercises from a strategic level.

“But longer term, it allows the carrier to integrate seamlessly and command a task group from the flagship and react accordingly to any future operations.”

Thales will also be upgrading HMS Prince of Wales, the second RN aircraft carrier, with the same new communications capabilities.

Nearly 50 highly-skilled naval communications specialists and engineers are based at the Thales site at Crawley, West Sussex.