Solution for Lateral Deployment and Recovery of Drones for Belgian-Dutch Mine Hunter Vessels Tested

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  • 07:25 AM, January 24, 2022
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Solution for Lateral Deployment and Recovery of Drones for Belgian-Dutch Mine Hunter Vessels Tested
French firms test solution for Launch And Recovery System in Toulon @BNR

Belgium Naval & Robotics (BNR) and Naval Group-ECA consortium tested the solution for rallying, recovering, maintaining and launching surface drones (Launch And Recovery System or LARS) in Toulon recently.

On January 13, a demonstration of the deployment and recovery operation of the fully remotely operated USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicle) and a presentation of the test results took place in the presence of the Royal Belgian and Dutch navies as part of the rMCM (Replacement Mine Counter Measure) program.

The cooperation between the companies combines Naval Group's ability to design a platform-integrated system that enables the safe deployment and recovery of ECA Group's USV INSPECTOR 125 surface drone.

This system deploys laterally on each side of the vessel. It doubles the deployment and recovery capacity.

The industrial tests made it possible to test this solution up to sea state 4/5, 40 knots of wind and by day and by night. The analysis and processing of the information collected will enable the solution to be finalized and production of the system to be launched in the second semester of 2022.

Solution for Lateral Deployment and Recovery of Drones for Belgian-Dutch Mine Hunter Vessels Tested
French firms test solution for Launch And Recovery System in Toulon @BNR

Deploying and retrieving robotic drones provides the dual strategic advantage of extending the action capability of ships equipped with the solution, but also of protecting personnel and ships. The stand-off solution proposed by BNR (detection, identification and neutralization of mines without human intervention in situ) will allow Belgian and Dutch naval forces to rely on these drones for mine clearance operations while remaining at a safe distance.

The twelve ships (MCMPF) ordered by the Belgian and Dutch navies will be equipped with 24 of this solution. The first of class rMCM was laid down by Naval Group in Concarneau the 30th of November 2021. These mine countermeasures vessels, capable of withstanding underwater explosions and equipped with low acoustic, electrical and magnetic signatures, will be delivered between 2024 and 2030 to Zeebrugge, Belgium. They will be the first dedicated drone carriers in naval history, equipped to operate a fully robotic drone system for mine detection, classification and neutralization.

The tests in Toulon brought together for the first time four subsystems designed by the consortium and allowed them to be tested in real conditions on the VN Rebel, a specially chartered vessel:

LARS: equipped with automated arms that equip the two sides of the ships, it works like an elevator, allowing the launching and recovery of the floating dock that hosts the drones;

Solution for Lateral Deployment and Recovery of Drones for Belgian-Dutch Mine Hunter Vessels Tested
French firms test solution for Launch And Recovery System in Toulon @BNR

Floating dock: a "cradle" for hosting surface drones (USV). This particularly innovative system makes it possible to limit the swing phenomena by working in a combined and automated way with the kinematics of the gantry combining guide arms, winches and a synchronized system of absorption. The floating dock allows to limit the overall efforts while guaranteeing overall stability. Once lifted on board, the dock allows maintenance and reconfiguration of the USV without having to move it;

Security system: allows the drones to be locked in the floating dock. A real asset,securing the drones in their dock limits the need to move them for reconfiguration and maintenance, thus simplifying operations while protecting personnel from the risks inherent in handling.

Drone: ECA Group's USV INSPECTOR 125 allows the deployment and recovery of: A-18 underwater drone, carrying the UMISAS synthetic interferometric side scan sonar for mine detection; T-18 towed sonar, carrying the UMISAS synthetic interferometric side scan sonar for mine detection; SEASCAN underwater drone for mine identification; K-STER C underwater drone for mine neutralization; and an influence mine sweep integrating magnetic, electric and acoustic modules.

 

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