On Thursday, January, the 13th, 2022, a demonstration of the deployment and recovery operation of the fully remotely operated USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicle) and a presentation of the test results took place in the presence of the Royal Belgian and Dutch navies as part of the rMCM (Replacement Mine Counter Measure) program.
The cooperation between the two companies combines Naval Group's ability to design a platform integrated system that enables the safe deployment and recovery of ECA Group's USV INSPECTOR 125 surface drone.
Result of several years of engineering development, this innovative system deploys laterally on each side of the vessel. This innovation doubles the deployment and recovery capacity.
The industrial tests carried out off Toulon, mobilized up to thirty consortium employees and made it possible to test this innovative technical solution up to sea state 4/5, 40 knots of wind and by day and by night. The analysis and processing of the information collected will enable the solution to be finalized and production of the system to be launched in the second semester of 2022.
Deploying and retrieving robotic drones provides the dual strategic advantage of extending the action capability of ships equipped with the solution, but also of protecting personnel and ships. Thanks to the stand-off solution proposed by Belgium Naval & Robotics (detection, identification and neutralization of mines without human intervention in situ), the Belgian and Dutch naval forces will be able to rely on these drones for mine clearance operations while remaining at a safe distance.
Eric Perrot, Director of the rMCM program for Naval Group, said: "We are delighted with the success of these tests of the new surface drone deployment and recovery systems. This performance is the result of the collaboration between multiple partners in this project, first and foremost ECA Group. We have great faith in this technology and we thank the Belgian and Dutch navies for their confidence in us”.
Dominique Giannoni, CEO of ECA Group said: "Today's demonstration shows the relevance of ECA Group's drone deployment and recovery solution. It is a constant dialogue between the Naval Group and ECA Group teams that has allowed this great result of integration of our systems. We are fully committed to the success of this highly innovative program”.
The twelve ships (MCMPF) ordered by the Belgian and Dutch navies will be equipped with twenty four of this innovative and now, proven solution. The first of class rMCM was laid down by NavalGroup in Concarneau the 30th of November 2021.
These mine countermeasures vessels, capable of withstanding underwater explosions and equipped with low acoustic, electrical and magnetic signatures, will be delivered between 2024 and 2030 to Zeebrugge, Belgium. They will be the first dedicated drone carriers in naval history, equipped to operate a fully robotic drone system for mine detection, classification and neutralization.