« Our contract with the US Coast Guard is well underway », an iXblue representative told Naval News at SAS 2019. « iXblue secured further work with the US Navy after winning the USCG contract », attesting the company’s inertial navigation solutions (INS) emmerging place within the US market. « US continuous request for inertial navigation systems will stay a major topic for us in the coming months, » he added.
Drawing on this, iXblue is officially adding a military grade member to its Marins family, launched in 2014. The band new MARINS M11 model is one of the best available INS on the market, offering a drift of less than 1 Nm in 360 hours of surface GNSS-denied or submarine dived navigation.
Another major topic for iXblue INS portfolio is the Dutch and Belgian Navies Mine Countermeasure Vessel program, for which the company was partnering with both Belgian Naval and Robotics and Sea Naval Solutions consortiums. Belgium recently rejected the SNS appeal, paving the way to the official signature of the contract for 12 brand new MCM vessels.
Besides inertial navigation systems, iXblue is also actively promoting its DriX autonomous vessel (ASV), unveiled in its military variant at Euronaval 2018 in Paris. However, iXblue is not expected to propose its DriX for military applications to the United States. Moreover, a potential sale to US military would require an export license from the French Procurement Agency. Still, the DriX would possibly find a right place in the civilian market.
In 2018, the New Hampshire University’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM) ASV Team was asked by Rear Admiral Shepard M. Smith, director of the NOAA Office of Coast Survey, to evaluate iXblue’s DriX vessel. The ASV team will spend a year working on DriX vessel, marking the first time it has been tested in the US. After an evaluation period at CCOM, the ASV will visit some other areas of the U.S., as well as some other countries.
According to iXblue, DriX offers unmatched seakeeping and high speed transit capabilities (up to 14 knots) thanks to its highly hydrodynamic hull, along with an enhanced autonomy of up to 10 days. Its sensors-embedded gondola, two meters under the surface, ensures optimal data gathering. Thanks to its open architecture, DriX can be tuned to fit the needs of any military customer and can be used to conduct a wide range of military missions.