Netherlands MoD places an order for a drone system to improve MCM capabilities

Image Source: Belgium Naval & Robotics

Belgium Naval & Robotics – Naval Group and ECA GROUP consortium – announces today a contract award from the Defence Material Organization (DMO) of the Ministry of Defence of the Netherlands worth over 20 million euros, the company announced. Complementary to and anticipating the deliveries of 6 minehunters and associated drone systems within the Belgian-Dutch Mine Countermeasures (MCM) capability replacement program, the Netherlands Ministry of Defence awards a new contract to the consortium to provide the Royal Netherlands Navy with unmanned and autonomous systems for their Operational Tests and Evaluation (OT&E) program.

The OT&E program of the Royal Netherlands Navy has been created to prepare and test new operational doctrines associated with the rMCM means. The scope of this contract will allow the performance assessment of the RCM tools, operating the L&R systems, the use of the planning and evaluation software for the deployment of naval drones, and some of the manning, maintenance, and training concepts.

Belgium Naval & Robotics (BNR) will provide a comprehensive MCM toolbox including:

  • The subsea drone A18-M AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) for mine detection, which has already been successfully tested within the Sandy Coast exercise in September 2020;
  • The Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) for mine identification and neutralization SEASCAN MK2 and K-STER;
  • A surface naval drone INSPECTOR 90 USV;
  • A Command and Control (C2) container equipped with mine warfare data center and operating consoles;
  • An advanced software suite (UBISOFT and SMMD);
  • A floating dock for Launching and Recovery of the USV;
  • Launch and Recovery (L&R) systems;
  • Support equipment, including maintenance and storage containers, spares, and special tools.

The MCM toolbox delivery will start over the next few months and will be completed within 24 months. Throughout the contract, Belgium Naval & Robotics will support the Royal Netherlands Navy with training, documentation, maintenance, and technical support.

“In line with our commitment within the rMCM program of the Belgian and Netherlands navies, we are proud to continue and reinforce our support to the Royal Netherlands Navy. The (r)evolutionary stand-off Mine Countermeasures concept of the two navies is taking shape, and we are proud to contribute to it with our technological solutions together with our partner Naval Group”, states Guénaël GUILHERME, CEO of ECA GROUP.

“Naval Group is fully committed to supporting the Royal Netherlands Navy’s operational objectives within the frame of the Belgian-Dutch Mine Countermeasures (MCM) capability replacement program. This innovative solution will fulfill the operational needs of the Navy. The OT&E contract opens new opportunities to strengthen our existing cooperation further”, declared Eric Perrot, Naval Group Programme Director.

“DMO and the Royal Netherlands Navy are ready to start exploring all new possibilities that the stand-off concept for counter-mine operations will offer. With the first delivery this spring, we can start learning well ahead of introducing the new MCM capability. We are committed to the OT&E program benefitting our cooperation with both our Belgian partners and BNR, to improve operational outcome in the future”, said Captain (E) Sander van Luik, Netherlands program lead rMCM and OT&E at DMO.