Thales press release
This maiden mission was organised off the coast of Brest at the end of June 2020 in the presence of officials from both nations, the French group adds
Over a period of a week, the minehunting mission completed four operational scenarios using all the subsystems developed for the programme by Thales and its partners: the unmanned surface vessel (USV) with its volume search sonar, the towed array sonar, two unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) equipped with the SAMDIS sonar, and the robotic mine neutralisation system. This comprehensive mission included several sequences combining autonomous vehicles with high-level automated functions remotely controlled from the operational command centre via a secure communication system.
The first two scenarios involved end-to-end threat detection, classification and localisation throughout the mission. In the third scenario, readings were compared with data from an earlier mission to detect changes, and the last scenario entailed relocation and identification of several mines, and neutralisation of one of them. With all the threats positively detected and the robotic neutralisation procedure completed as planned, the mission was a success from beginning to end and confirmed the excellent operational performance of all the systems deployed.
“These operational scenarios at sea were very important to demonstrate interim operational capability performance of the MMCM prototype. Their achievement marks important progress towards achieving the start of the production phase, and we look forward to seeing the full operational capability demonstrated in Autumn this year.”Christophe Serrat – OCCAR Programme manager, FR/UK MMCM
“With this latest milestone, the MMCM programme has delivered the only operational system-of-systems of its kind in the world. This pioneering mission further consolidates Thales’s world leadership in both conventional mine countermeasures and the new generation of solutions based on a combination of autonomous and remotely operated systems. This uniquely complex programme brings major innovations in the service of the safety of the seas, seafarers and citizens,” Alexis Morel, VP Underwater activities, Thales, said.
In 2012, UK and France initiated the Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) programme which aims at developing a prototype autonomous system for detection and neutralisation of sea mines and underwater improvised explosive devices (UWIEDs). Managed by the OCCAR European agency, the MMCM contract was awarded to Thales, in collaboration with BAE Systems and their partners in France (ECA) and in the UK (ASV, Wood & Douglas, SAAB).
MMCM is a complete mine warfare system, composed of Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) and Underwater Unmanned Vehicles (UUVs), aiming at replacing French Marine Nationale and UK Royal Navy current fleets of mine hunters. As part of the MMCM programme, Thales and BAE Systems are committed to providing systems to both the French Navy and Royal Navy for two years of evaluation testing, under the SLAM-F and MHC programs respectively.