Naval Group launches Mine Counter Measures Lab in Brussels

According to a press release published by Naval Group on November 26, 2021, the French firm announced the creation of the MCM (Mine Countermeasures) R&D centre of excellence within its subsidiary, Naval Group Belgium. It is the third centre of excellence created by Naval Group abroad.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Artist rendering of future Mine Countermeasure Vessels (Picture source: Naval Group)

This Naval Group R&D centre of excellence will work jointly with Belgian partners in a collaborative laboratory called the MCM Lab. Coordinated by Naval Group Belgium, the MCM Lab was launched on 25 November with a first official meeting and the exchange of the signed convention.

The MCM Lab is one of the key components of the industrial cooperation plan associated with the Belgian-Dutch remote mine countermeasure replacement program (rMCM) awarded in 2019 to Belgium Naval & Robotics, the consortium made up of Naval Group and ECA Group.

This consortium was chosen by the Belgian and Royal Netherlands navies to supply twelve mine countermeasures vessels and a toolbox composed of around 100 drones.

One of the main objectives of the MCM Lab is to reinforce the Belgian Defence Industry and Technology Base (DTIB) in strategic technologies such as marine robotics, enhanced detection capabilities, artificial intelligence applications, etc, for wider Mine CounterMeasures capabilities.

The strength of this research laboratory is to include partners with complementary technological skills and innovative approaches. It will foster and stimulate a close collaboration between universities, industries and research institutes in order to pursue R&D activities with the aim of accelerating the development of innovations and preparing the evolution of mine warfare systems over time.

The MCM Lab is a collaboration between Naval Group, Naval Group Belgium, ECA Robotics, ECA Robotics Belgium, ABC (Anglo Belgian Corporation), BATS (Belgian Advanced Technology Systems), DotOcean, Space Applications Services, University of Ghent, Université Libre de Bruxelles and Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ).

Collaborations between MCM Lab partners are already ongoing around high-value capabilities such as robotics, artificial intelligence or acoustic discretion.

Five of the MCM Lab partners are also part of the European project MIRICLE which will be kicked off in early December and aims at defining the future of mine warfare.

In 2019, Belgium and the Netherlands signed the contract for the joint purchase of twelve new-generation mine hunters. Naval Group & Eca-Robotics Sasu, the two French companies that have won this contract of around 1.1 billion euros for each country, will ensure a significant share of the production in Belgium. The contract of more than two billion euros spans ten years.

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