The Belgian-Dutch mine hunter program has crossed “Systems Functional Review” phase that validates the functional and architectural studies of the ships’ onboard systems including propulsion and combat systems, and more than hundred drones.
“On May 23, a new contractual milestone was crossed by the Belgium Naval & Robotics teams, exactly one year after the notification of the contract in 2019,” Belgium Naval & Robotics company said in statement June 29.
The review also focused on the systems of systems that provide mission management, communications and cybersecurity, as well as on the integration of drone systems on the ship.
“This milestone represents an important step because it demonstrates that the systems’ architecture of the armed ship meets the functional requirements of our Belgian and Dutch customers,” said Eric Perrot, program director for Naval Group.
The program involves building twelve mine hunters equipped with drone systems (Toolbox) to the Belgian and Dutch navies. The contract will span over ten years.
After a design period of three years, Belgium Naval & Robotics will move on to the production phase of these ships and drone systems, with an initial delivery scheduled for 2024. Six ships will be delivered to the Belgian navy and six to the Dutch navy; they will be equipped with a complete drones system (Toolbox) containing a total of more than a hundred underwater, surface and aerial drones entirely dedicated to mine hunting.
Naval Group is tasked with producing computer networks, electrical installations, propulsion or combat systems that will go on the ships; while the drones are manufactured by ECA Group.
The configuration of the Toolbox, used on board each ship or deployed from the shore, will vary depending on the typology of the missions. It will consist of surface drones USV INSPECTOR125, underwater drones AUV A18M and towed sonars T18 for mine detection and the MIDS system (Mine Identification and Disposal System) for mine identification and neutralization.
In charge of the preliminary design of the ships, Naval Group works in close collaboration with Kership who will carry out the detailed design of the ships and their construction. Kership’s activities will start after crossing the Preliminary Design Review milestone, which is scheduled for December 2020.