Future Mine Countermeasures vessels of the Belgian Navy and Dutch Navy in action

An animation released by Belgium Naval & Robotics, the French consortium of Naval Group and ECA Group on Youtube, shows the MCM platforms and the different drones (UAV, UUV, AUV and USV)that will enter the Belgian Navy in the near future as well as Dutch Navy. These vessels will act as drone motherships.

Future Mine Countermeasures vessels of the Belgian Navy and Dutch Navy in action 925 001 Future Mine Countermeasures (MCM) vessels of the Belgian Navy and Dutch Navy in action (Picture source: Marineschepen)

In May 2019, the Belgium Naval & Robotics consortium, composed of Naval Group and ECA Group, was awarded the contract to supply twelve mine-hunting vessels to the Belgian and Dutch navies. Equipped with around 100 drones, constituting approximately ten drone systems (toolboxes), six ships are destined for the Belgian Navy, while the other six will be delivered to the Dutch Navy.

Belgium Naval & Robotics, thanks to Naval Group’s recognized expertise, offers a 2800-ton militarized ship specialized in mine warfare with military characteristics (acoustic and electromagnetic discretion, shock-resistance) perfectly adapted to the operational use targeted by the Belgian and Dutch navies. In particular, this vessel incorporates a launch and recovery system for ECA Group’s Inspector 125 unmanned surface vehicles (USV). This innovative, robust and reliable system ensures the safety of operators and maneuvers to protect the ship, the USV and its payloads while offering a high level of mission availability.

The drone systems onboard these innovative vessels are the latest generation of drones developed by ECA Group over the past four years. They are integrated into the C2 MCM Umisoft system connected to the Naval Group’s I4drones® system to form the mine-warfare mission system integrated into the ship’s combat system.

The package includes A18-M autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), T18-M towed sonars and Mine Identification & Destruction Systems (MIDS) composed of SEASCAN and KSTER-C remotely operated vehicles (ROV). All these drones can be operated autonomously from the USV Inspector 125. The drone system also includes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and influence sweeps.

The program provides for the supply of drone systems that can also be projected. Containerized and equipped with handling and communication systems, mine-hunting drone systems can be airlifted and deployed directly from the coast without a ship.

Here are the main next stages for program achievement:

* April 2020 - October 2020: preliminary design review
* October 2020 - February 2021: critical design review
of the hull
* 23 February 2021: construction of the first ship
* 23 May 2024: delivery of the first ship

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