Mine countermeasures is undergoing an operational and technological revolution. Fully automated robotic systems and unmanned vehicles are changing deployment doctrines and making MCM more accessible than ever.
Already acknowledged leaders in mine warfare, the French Navy and its contractors are pioneering the development of a new generation of fully automated robotic solutions. The prime aim is to keep personnel clear of the danger zone. To this end, unmanned vehicles are being designed to detect, classify, locate, identify, and then neutralise underwater threats.
Between 2009 and 2015, France undertook the Espadon programme to test a large unmanned surface vehicle (USV) and two types of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) developed by the ECA Group. The mother USV trailed a towed synthetic aperture sonar (T-SAS) developed by Thales. To search vast areas for potential threats, the first AUV, an ECA type A27, was equipped with the Thales Samdis side-scan sonar. The A27 can dive to 300 metres and has an endurance of more than 30 hours. The second AUV was a type A18-T equipped with a high-resolution sonar and four cameras to identify each threat discovered by the A27.
A18-T (© : ECA GROUP)
Espadon demonstrated the feasibility of mine…
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