Within their Mine Countermeasures capability replacement program, the Belgian and the Royal Netherlands navies chose the INSPECTOR 125-class USV, ECA Group announced with a press release.
At the heart of the MCM mission and the centerpiece of the naval drone system, the INSPECTOR 125 combines all advantages of a sea proven and robust solution with many innovative functions. The INSPECTOR 125 USV has a low magnetic and acoustic signature to prevent mine triggering, and its unsinkability keeps it afloat in the event of mine explosions. Its unequalled architecture is made to address the requirements of the navies.
ECA Group undertakes important role in the MCMV program of the Belgian and the Dutch navies.
The INSPECTOR 125 is designed to integrate different payloads depending on the mission to be performed. Changing from one configuration to another takes less than 6 hours. The drone will be able to accommodate either the AUV and its LARS in “taxi mode”, or the towed sonar, or MIDS (Mine Identification and Disposal system), or divers and protection units.
The INSPECTOR 125 is thus a sea proven, robust, unsinkable USV, operable by sea state 4, multipurpose by design. ECA GROUP will deliver 17 USVs from 2023.
The INSPECTOR 125 platform, designed by MAURIC, is derived from the V2 New Generation rescue boats that have been in service within the French National Society of Sea Rescue (SNSM) for about 10 years. MAURIC, ECA GROUP’s naval architecture company, is entrusted with the design and definition of these New Generation rescue boats. Since 2008, 20 of these rescue vessels have been delivered.
The INSPECTOR-125 platform has a 12,3m-long overall length. It is equipped with two engines and two waterjets allowing it to reach 25 knots. It has an endurance of 48 hours by sea state up to 4.
A variant of the INSPECTOR-125 platform is dedicated for the IMS mission (Influence Mine Sweeping). For this INSPECTOR 125-S variant, the waterjets are replaced by two shaft lines with propellers to increase the thrust allowing the sweep to be towed at up to 8 knots. This variant’s maximum speed is 13 knots.
The INSPECTOR 125 USV is equipped with foamed compartments, which makes this USV unsinkable and therefore, more resistant in case of mine explosions or perils of the sea. The INSPECTOR 125 inherits from the V2 NG lifeboat its robustness, reliability and unsinkability and its ideal compromise between speed, seakeeping and manoeuvrability.
The INSPECTOR 125 USV is equipped with a “Sea Proven” anti-roll system, which reduces roll by 40%. Thanks to this mechanism, the USV is operational up to sea state 4 and ensures the launching and recovery of the underwater vehicles – AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle), Towed Sonar, ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) – by high sea states.
Multipurpose by design
The INSPECTOR 125 is a “carrier USV” capable of transporting and deploying payloads formerly reserved to larger manned vessels.
The INSPECTOR 125 USV can be configured according to the payload. The USV is equipped with a generic power and control cabinet compatible with all payloads, a hydraulic power unit to ensure the functions of the T18 Towed Sonar LARS and the deployment of the mature, as well as its pole equipped with an acoustic tracking and communication system and the MOAS (Mine and Obstacle Avoidance Sonar).
- In AUV or Towed Sonar configuration, the INSPECTOR 125 USV transits at high speed while carrying the A18-M AUV or T18 Towed Sonar to/from the mine threat area, thus increasing the payload operational time on target and effective mission duration otherwise limited by the battery consumption during transit from the ship. The INSPECTOR 125 then launches/recovers the A18 AUV or T18 Towed Sonar, while supporting the payload during its mission.
- In MIDS configuration, the INSPECTOR 125 USV is fitted with ROVS: the SEASCAN and its LARS for identification, as well as the K-STER C and its canister for neutralization at stand-off distances.
The USV INSPECTOR can also be configured for manned missions with a Force Protection and Clearance Diving Team payload.