The Netherlands' Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) has awarded Thales Nederland a €125m contract for the development and supply of four integrated masts.

The Integrated Masts will be installed on the four Ocean Patrol Vessels that are being built for the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN). The first ship is scheduled to be handed over to the RNLN at the end of 2010.

The integrated mast concept features a central mast structure which houses all radar, optronic, and communication sensors and antennas as well as all cabinets and peripherals. According to Thales, the advantages include better operational performance, higher operational availability, reduced shipbuilding time, reduced maintenance requirements and enormous savings in below-deck space.

Thales is the design authority of the integrated mast, and will subcontract the design and supply of the steel structure to shipyards and integrate all sensor and communication systems.

Thales said its integrated mast could provide the solution to the sensor problems encountered on many naval platforms that often have more than 100 antennas for surveillance, communications, fire control and navigation. These systems compete for the best place on deck but may in fact block each other and cause electro-magnetic interference.