ECA Group announced the delivery of several fully robotized underwater mine counter measure systems since the beginning of the year to two navies, Kazakhstan being one of them.
They are the first unmanned mine counter measure systems ever manufactured and are a breakthrough in the underwater mine counter measures market.
For the first time, customers can deploy vehicles that will protect their crews keeping them outside the minefield. Until recently, the detection sonar was located on the minehunter, which required entering the threat area and being exposed to a risk of explosion.
Thanks to a system entirely based on specialized robots, mines are now detected using high resolution sonar fitted either on autonomous underwater vehicles or on surface drones, while avoiding the mother ship to approach the mines.
Once the sonar has detected potential mines, inspection robot such as the SEASCAN MK2 is used to identify (confirm via video images that the object is indeed a mine) and disposal vehicle as the K-STER C to destroy the mine. These robots can be launched either from the mother ship or remotely deployed from the surface drone, thereby keeping the mother ship at a safer distance from the mines.
Keeping the vessel in a standoff position relaxes the design constraints of the ship. Thus the platform are less expensive than conventional minehunters while being faster to reach the operation area and more flexible to be involved in other missions such as maritime surveillance.
For several years, ECA Group has been developing a comprehensive range of underwater robots (A9, A18 and A27 type AUVs, K-STER type mine killers, and H300/800 type ROVs, etc.), in addition to USV INSPECTOR type surface drones. Used together on a single vessel, these different robots can perform full mine counter missions (as well as Hydrography, Surveillance, and Research and Assistance missions) through their sequential and/or simultaneous deployment.
To manage the mission of various robots on the vessel, ECA Group has over recent years developed an Unmanned MCM Information System (UMIS) enabling the vessel to plan and conduct mine counter missions safely and effectively through the optimal operation of the various robots, and to incorporate the information collected into the naval customer's centralized management system.
Thanks to ECA Group’s wide range of robots, there is considerable flexibility to adapt the systems offered depending on the customer's operational requirements and budget: minimal configurations make it possible to carry mine counter solutions on smaller vessels (<30m), in particular where the requirement is limited to coastal mine counter measures. For planned mine counter activity requiring rapid mine disposal (for amphibious operations, for example), the configuration may incorporate several INSPECTOR MK2 USVs and AUVs, as well as one or two dozen mine killers on the same mine countermeasures vessel.
The selling price of such robotic naval mine counter measure systems can range from €3 million to €30 million, depending on the configuration and service offered to the customer by ECA Group to support implementation.
These robotic / unmanned underwater mine disposal systems will be presented at the Euronaval trade fair to be held in Paris from 17 to 21 October 2016. A series of conferences will also be dedicated to these systems.
The ECA Group is renowned for its expertise in robotics, automated systems, simulation and industrial processes. Since 1936 it has been developing complete innovative technological solutions to perform complex missions in hostile or restrictive environments.
Its products are used by a demanding international clientèle requiring the highest levels of safety and efficiency, mainly in the sectors of defense, maritime, aerospace, simulation, energy and industrial equipment.