Industrial consortium of Thales, BAE Systems and ESA Group has won Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) contract from France and UK.
The contract covers the definition, implementation and qualification of two prototypes of a system of naval drones, both surface and underwater, by 2019, the French ministry of Defense announced on Friday.
They will be operated from a "mother ship "or from land. Evaluations will be conducted by the French Navy and the Royal Navy. Compared to existing mine hunters, the future system will keep operators outside the danger zone.
This contract was awarded among the French subcontractors and is the result of a competitive dialogue led by OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation).
British Defence Minister Philip Dunne said, “Working together on the basis of a common vision for underwater unmanned aerial systems, we will be able to determine the benefits that the development of those capabilities could bring in the military, financial, technological and skill fields”.
The Delegate General for Armaments, Laurent Collet-Billon, said "The MMCM project against naval mines is an important part in shaping the future of defense systems for the benefit of the French and British navies. It reflects the desire for innovation of both our countries to keep one step ahead in the technological, industrial and operational areas of the underwater warfare sector.”
For France, the MMCM project is a constitutive and central component of the broader "future mine action system" (SLAMF) project, which aims to renew the French mine warfare capabilities after 2020.
For the United Kingdom, the MMCM project contributes to the "Mine Countermeasures and Hydrographic Capability" (MHC) project for the renewal of the hydrographic capacity and mine-hunting operations.