The US company L3 Technologies is ready to transfer proven unmanned technology to the Belgian shipyard Engine Deck Repair (EDR). Through the Belgian consortium Sea Naval Solutions, EDR is now authorized to integrate L3 solutions in its proposal for the Belgian-Dutch MCM Program.
Technologies acquired over the years by L3 through studies and construction of the first functional prototypes of USV (autonomous surface drone) for the French and British navies is at the heart of the transfer of knowledge between L3 and EDR.
In December, L3 ASV, the group’s Autonomous Surface Vehicles division, successfully launched two Mine countermeasures (MCM) autonomous boats for sea trials. The vessels are part of the Anglo-French Maritime Mine Countermeasures (MMCM) programme in which ASV is supplying the vessels to Thales.
« This technology transfer will enable EDR, in cooperation with Soblecomb (a Walloon company specializing in composite materials), to become a major player in the autonomous platforms market », said Sea Naval Solutions in a statement.
The Belgian and Dutch navies will start replacing their ageing fleet of MCM vessels from 2023. The Tripartite class vessels were built in the 1980s under a trilateral program between Belgium, Netherlands and France. Under the MCM program, the two navies intend to purchase 12 new vessels, 10 “tool boxes” and an initial 10 years support contract.
Three naval defense joint ventures (called « combinations » by the Belgian military) are competing in this tender: SeaNavalSolutions (Thales, EDR, Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Socarenam); Belgium Naval & Robotics (Naval Group and ECA) and Damen Imtech Belgium.