France received a UAV prototype system for detecting underwater mines

PARIS, ($1=0.88 Euros) – In 2010, France established cooperation with the United Kingdom to develop, through the MMCM [Marine Countermeasures] project, a system of submarines and surface drones dedicated to combating marine mines. Placed under the auspices of the Joint Armaments Organization [OCCAr], it is entrusted by the French side to Thales, with the ECA Group being a subcontractor.

France received a UAV prototype system for detecting underwater mines
Photo credit: Thales

MMCM is one of the four pillars of a much larger program called SLAM-F [Future Naval Mine Action System]. This aims to renew all the capabilities of the French navy in the field of mine action. In this way, anti-mine buildings [BGDM], buildings for divers to clear new generation mines [BBPD NG], and a mine action data operating system [SEDGM] will be added to this naval drone system.

In November 2020, the Ministry of the Armed Forces announced a contract for the first four naval unmanned aerial vehicle systems worth € 300 million. And to clarify that they must be delivered before 2024. Meanwhile, the General Armaments Directorate [DGA] received a prototype to be able to carry out a technical and operational assessment in close cooperation with the French Navy, learned, citing opex360. It will also be a matter of “appropriating this new capacity”.

We remind you that the naval anti-mine drone system consists of two surface drones [USV], one equipped with towed sonar and the other with a remote-controlled robot [ROV], as well as two drones, submarines [AUV].

The way it works is simple: if a mine is found, AUV will take pictures of it and send them to its identification database using a database and an artificial intelligence algorithm [AI]. If necessary, the explosive charge will be placed by the ROV and the decision on whether or not to ignite will be taken from a distance by a sailor.

Compared to current capabilities, such a system will be able to detect thirty times smaller objects, neutralize a mine to a depth of 300 meters or even map the seabed three times faster using multi-beam sonar.

At the end of this technical and operational assessment, this anti-mine drone system will be “re-equipped” and then officially adopted by the French Navy by 2024. The other three units ordered in 2020 will follow the French fleet. Everything will be “initially done from the ground to help deter, then from anti-mine ships, which are the subject of later stages of the SLAM-F program,” the DGA said at the time.


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