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Author: Subject: Mine warfare, all aspects
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[*] posted on 3-12-2019 at 10:03 AM


World First: Naval Group Successfully Completes Testing of Its Launch and Recovery System

(Source: Naval Group; issued Nov. 29, 2019)


Naval Group achieved 100% successful recoveries of ECA Group’s Inspector 125 up to and including sea states 5 and 6 using its Launch and Recovery system (LARS) at the MARIN test facilities at Wageningen, Netherlands. (NG photo)

In Naval Group’s Dutch partner MARIN facilities, Belgian and Dutch officials witnessed the 100% successful launching and recovery of USVs using Naval Group Launch and Recovery System (LARS). The tests were conducted up to sea state 5/6 (significant waves height: 4m) and with incoming waves from all directions (including leeward of the mothership).

This is a world first and proves that the launch and recovery concept developed by Naval Group is the answer for operating USVs safely in harsh maritime environments. Naval Group demonstrated its expertise and qualifies its system, paving the way to new capabilities for navies needing to operate USV at sea in difficult conditions.

Naval Group mothership has one port and one starboard LARS located slightly aft of midship, close to the ship’s centre of gravity. Each LARS consists of a pivoting A-Frame davit with the USV, weighing up to 18t, housed in a floating cradle. It allows the simultaneous launch of two USVs with maximal safety. For the Belgian-Dutch mine countermeasure (MCM) program, conducted by Belgium Naval Robotics – a Naval Group and ECA Group consortium -, they will be used to operate two ECA’s Inspector 125 USV.

Claude Bultot, the Belgian program director said “This success is an important milestone in the program and towards the implementation of a new way to conduct our minehunting activities that will be more efficient and safer for our crews. We are looking forward to the next steps together with the Dutch navy and with our industrial partners from Naval Group and ECA Group.”

These tests belong to a series for the MCM BE/NL program. In August 2019, first tank tests were carried out in MARIN facilities with the same scale model of the ship’s hull and propulsion system under calm sea conditions. The first objective was to confirm and fine-tune computational fluid dynamic predictions made for speed and to validate the overall hull drag and propellers efficiency. The second objective was to assess interactions between the hull and propulsion system in order to estimate the total propulsion power of the ship. The next series of tests will take place in February and will assess the cradle handling dynamic aspects.

The contract for twelve minehunters for the Belgian and Dutch navies will run over ten years. After a three-year design period, Belgium Naval & Robotics will move into the production phase for these ships and drone systems, with a first delivery due in 2024. Six ships will be delivered to the Belgian navy and six to the Dutch navy; all are equipped with complete drone systems (toolboxes) in total containing over a hundred underwater, surface and aerial drones fully dedicated to mines countermeasures.

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[*] posted on 4-12-2019 at 08:47 PM


Naval Group claims LARS first with MARIN tests

Richard Scott, London - Jane's Navy International

03 December 2019


Tank testing at MARIN has demonstrated the launch and recovery of USVs in conditions of up to sea state 5/6. Source: Naval Group

Naval Group claims that subscale testing has proved the rough seas performance of a new unmanned surface vehicle (USV) launch and recovery system (LARS) developed by the company to meet the needs of future offboard system operations.

Tank testing undertaken at the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) test facilities in Wageningen demonstrated the launch and recovery of USVs in simulated conditions of up to sea state 5/6, the company said in a 29 November statement.

The new LARS has been specified to launch and recover the ECA Inspector 125 USV on board the Belgium/Netherlands (BE/NL) future mine countermeasures (MCM) motherships.

Belgian Naval & Robotics - a French industrial grouping of Naval Group and underwater systems and robotics house ECA Group - was in March 2019 selected to deliver the BE/NL future MCM programme. A contract valued at almost EUR2 billion (USD2.2 billion) was awarded on 22 May.

Belgium and the Netherlands will each procure six 2,800-tonne motherships designed to support offboard MCM operations.

These 81.4 m steel-hulled vessels, to be built in Brittany by Kership (Naval Group's joint venture with commercial shipbuilder Piriou for quasi-military/security vessels up to 95 m in length), will operate in conjunction with toolboxes using unmanned/autonomous vehicles drawn from ECA's own UMIS offboard MCM suite.

The mothership design has LARS systems installed port and starboard slightly aft of midships, close to the ship's centre of gravity. Each LARS consists of a pivoting A-Frame davit, with the Inspector 125 USV - weighing up to 18 tonnes - housed within a floating cradle.

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[*] posted on 7-1-2020 at 05:56 PM


Northrop Grumman successfully completes initial in-water testing of the AQS-24 Mine Hunting Sonar using a next generation deploy and retrieval payload

Posted On Monday, 06 January 2020 16:38

Northrop Grumman Corporation’s AQS-24 mine hunting sonar recently completed initial in-water testing of a next-generation Deploy and Retrieval (D&R) payload. Operated from the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vessel (MCM USV), the AQS-24 D&R demonstrated the unmanned operations needed to perform a mine hunting mission off the MCM Mission Package aboard the littoral combat ship (LCS).


The AQS-24B minehunter being deployed from the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vessel (MCM USV) (Picture source: Northrop Grumman)

“Achieving this important milestone demonstrated reliable unmanned mine hunting operations, while using operationally representative hardware from the LCS MCM Mission Module,” said Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman. “This allows the program to begin preparation for further at-sea testing of the system for extended duration missions in rigorous conditions.”

The MCM USV tests are ahead of planned user-operated evaluation system testing of the AQS-24 on LCSs. The company has multiple versions of the AQS-24 to provide mine hunting capabilities for navies. The AQS-24B is a deployed system which uses side-scan sonar for real-time detection, localization and classification of bottom and moored mines in addition to a laser line scanner for precise optical identification.

Integration of the AQS-24 sonar with USVs allows for the real-time transmission of all AQS-24 data to a remote sonar operator, who can then commence real-time mission analysis (RTMA) of all recorded mission data. RTMA significantly reduces MCM detect to engage timelines, as well as the real-time reacquisition and identification of bottom mines following traditional mine hunting sorties.
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[*] posted on 9-1-2020 at 10:07 PM


9 January 2020 News

OSI and PGZ SW partner to provide tactical systems to Polish Navy


OSI and Polish engineers will design, build, deliver and install two INTS for the Polish Navy Kormoran Class Mine Countermeasures Vessel new build programme. Credit: Asael Peña on Unsplash.

OSI Maritime Systems (OSI) and PGZ Stocznia Wojenna Shipyard (PGZ SW) have signed a strategic partnership to provide Integrated Navigation and Tactical Systems (INTS) to the Polish Navy.

Under the contract, OSI will collaborate with Polish engineers and fitters to design, build, deliver and install two INTS for the Polish Navy Kormoran Class Mine Countermeasures Vessel new build programme.

As part of this, OSI and PGZ SW will provide two INTS for vessels two and three of the class, Albatros and Mewa.

Kormoran, which is part of the Polish naval modernisation programme, will operate in the waters of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It will also take part in Nato’s countermeasure group in the Baltic and the North Sea.

OSI Maritime Systems president and CEO Ken Kirkpatrick said: “We are very pleased to be working with PGZ Stocznia Wojenna (PGZ SW) and the Polish Navy, our newest naval customer, on the Kormoran project.

“PGZ SW is a highly regarded naval shipyard and well-positioned to support the expansion of OSI’s presence within the region.”

The fully scalable, IMO and NATO STANAG 4564 WECDIS compliant Integrated Bridge System INTS has Marine Equipment Directive (MED) Type Approval certification from DNV GL as an Integrated Navigation System.

It meets key industry standards, including MSC.252 (83) and IEC 61924-2 for INS, as well as MSC.302(87) for Bridge Alert Management.

Kirkpatrick further added: “As a result of choosing OSI to be their integrated bridge system provider, the Polish Navy has advanced its navigation commonality and standard to a level that is on par with many other Nato and allied navies.

“The use of OSI’s INTS will also significantly increase the Polish Navy’s interoperability in Nato MCM operations since many similar platforms use OSI solutions.”
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[*] posted on 10-1-2020 at 09:05 PM


10 January 2020 News

ECA to build naval drones manufacturing plant in Ostend, Belgium


Belgium Naval & Robotics secured a contract from the Belgian and Dutch navies to supply 12 minesweepers. Credit: ECA GROUP.

ECA Group has announced plans to build its new plant in the Port of Ostend, Belgium to manufacture naval drones for mine clearance.

The company is building the plant to carry out the contract for the supply of its unmanned systems for the 12 minesweepers of the Belgian and Dutch navies.

Last year, the consortium Belgium Naval & Robotics, set up by Naval Group and ECA Group, secured a contract from the navies of both countries to supply 12 minesweepers and the dedicated unmanned systems for mine clearance at sea.

Many companies in Belgium are involved in the contract, which is valued at around $2bn, as partners and suppliers.

The two companies have established subsidiaries in the country to facilitate these exchanges.

The next generation of naval drones (submarines and surface) for the contract will be manufactured by ECA Group’s subsidiary ECA Robotics Belgium at the Ostend plant.

ECA Robotics Belgium CEO Steven Luys said: “We are pleased to build our factory in the Port of Oostende, near the navy and with direct access to the North Sea.”

Port of Ostend will grant a concession to ECA Group for the construction of the plant on the former site of Beliard in the port area. The plant has a surface area of 5000m² and will be operational in 2022.

An investment of around €10m will be made for the construction of the plant and the start of production.

Drones to be produced included the submarine drone A18-M, the towed sonar T18-M, the surface drone (USV) INSPECTOR 125 and the mine inspection and neutralisation drones (ROV MIDS) Seascan and K-STER.
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[*] posted on 17-1-2020 at 02:10 PM


France orders eight diving tenders

Emmanuel Huberdeau, London - Jane's Navy International

16 January 2020

France’s Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) has ordered eight new diving tenders from Merré Shipyard for operation by the French Navy, the French Ministry of the Armed forces announced on 15 January.

Under the terms of the contract, which was awarded to Merré Shipyard on 18 December 2019, the eight diving tenders (Vedettes de soutien à la plongée – VSP) are expected to be delivered by 2025.

The new VSPs will replace nine Dionée-class diving tenders that entered service between 1990 and 1996. They will be used by the French Navy’s three mine countermeasures (MCM) diving groups based in Toulon, Brest, and Cherbourg, as well as the Saint Mandrier diving school.


Merré Shipyard will deliver eight new diving tenders to the French Navy by 2025 under the new contract. (Merré Shipyard)

The first six VSPs will be configured for mine clearance missions, a DGA spokesperson told Jane’s . They will be able to carry a complement of 16 divers with a crew of six, and will feature overnight accommodation for longer missions.

These vessels will be used largely for MCM operations in shallow waters. Embarked divers will be able to operate to depths of 60 m. The VSPs will also conduct surveillance operations with a towed sonar to a maximum depth of 100 m.

The remaining two VSPs will be configured for training use at the Saint Mandrier diving school. These VSPs will be able to carry up to 30 divers for day-to-day sorties, with no overnight accommodation provided.

The aluminium-built VSPs will have an overall length of 26.5 m, with a 7 m beam and a displacement of 87 tonnes. Maximum speed is 13 kt. Armament includes three 7.62 machine guns. The VSPs will be equipped with a launching system for a rigid-hull inflatable boat, unmanned systems, or a sonar. The VSP will also feature a 200 kg-capable crane and a hyperbaric chamber.

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[*] posted on 8-2-2020 at 02:38 PM


Components of Northrop Grumman’s AQS-24B Minehunting System Being Manufactured in Australia

(Source: Northrop Grumman Corporation; issued Feb 06, 2020)

CANBERRA, Australia --- Northrop Grumman Corporation has started to manufacture components of the AQS-24B towed minehunting system with Marand Precision Engineering in Australia, at their Moorabbin, Victoria facility.

The AQS-24 minehunting system includes an operational High Speed Synthetic Aperture Sonar (HSSAS) and an optical laser line scan sensor. The system performs high resolution detection, localization, classification and identification of mine-like objects from helicopter and unmanned surface vessel platforms at speeds up to 18 knots. Thirty one systems are currently deployed worldwide.

“Northrop Grumman is committed to providing our customers worldwide with a sustainable and affordable minehunting system,” said Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman. “Our partnership with Australian industry enables us to source key components from local manufacturers. This approach provides Australian industry with the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with our customers to transition much of the build and support of the system to them. This is our approach for the AQS-24 in Australia and worldwide.

Marand designs and manufactures complex and innovative equipment and products for the aerospace, defense, automotive, rail and renewable energy industries. The towed vehicle shell assemblies and sonar array housings being manufactured in Australia for the AQS-24B will benefit from Marand’s extensive experience on other successful programs such as the F-35. Assemblies will be delivered this summer to satisfy existing spares contracts Northrop Grumman has to support fielded and operational AQS-24 systems.

“This is fantastic news; we are thrilled to be selected by Northrop Grumman as their partner for the AQS-24B program,” said Steve Mellor, general manager of Marand Defence Partnerships. “Having received our very first order from Northrop Grumman was an important step towards a long term relationship.”

Northrop Grumman has also expanded its current partnership with Sydney-based Electrotech Australia Pty Ltd, who currently performs post-delivery support of Northrop Grumman navigation and radar systems operating in Australia, to include future sustainment of the AQS-24B mine hunting sensor systems. Electrotech is the industry service leader for marine electronics and satellite communications equipment in Australia.

“The partnership with Northrop Grumman has been an excellent one for over 20 years,” said Stephen Renkert, CEO of Electrotech. “We welcome the opportunity to add the highly successful AQS-24 to our portfolio.”

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

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[*] posted on 11-2-2020 at 10:02 PM


Russia ready to start production of Indian Alexandrit-E minesweeper

Posted On Tuesday, 11 February 2020 10:07

Russia is ready to set up the production of the Project 12701 Alexandrit-E class minesweeper with a fiberglass hull in India under the Make in India program, the press office of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation told TASS.


A mockup of the Project 12701 Alexandrit was displayed during Army 2017

“We are offering our Indian partners to set up the production of aircraft of various types, Project 12701 Alexandrit-E class minesweepers and Project 75I diesel-electric submarines in India under the Make in India program,” the press office said. The ship is designed to provide mine protection of naval bases, coastal sea areas, detect and destroy mines of all kinds, provide, mine protection for ships in transit, exclusive economic zone and mineral deposits at sea, carry out mine reconnaissance, lay minefields. During low mine threat periods, the ships can be used both for protection of a water area and training purposes.

The Alexandrit-E is equipped with a 30mm AK-306 CIWS to protect the ship from air-launched weapon and air assets.

Coupled with the OPU-1 electro-optic sights, it can also be used to engage floating mines, coastal targets or even light armored targets. The Alexandrit-E is also equiped with MANPADS and can be equiped with either one 14.5mm machine gun or two 12.7mm machine guns. The Alexandrit-E-class is equipped with mine countermeasures systems, including GKT-2 or GOKT-1 contact sweep, SHAT-U wideband acoustic sweep, hull-mounted sonar, mine destruction system, and LIVADIA-ME mine-detection sonar.

The Alexandrit-E is also equiped with a Inspector-MK2-type MCM unmanned surface vehicle made by ECA Group to inspect and survey underwater objects. The maximum speed of the Project 12701-class countermine vessels is 16kt. The vessel can travel to a range of 1,500nm and stay afloat for approximately 10 days.

According to the press office, active work is currently in progress under the Make in India program to launch the local production of Kamov Ka-226T (NATO reporting name: Hoodlum) helicopters and Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifles on the Indian territory.

© Copyright 2020 TASS. All rights reserved.
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[*] posted on 3-3-2020 at 11:10 AM


Company AAI contract for low rate production of Unmanned Influence Sweep System for US Navy

Posted On Sunday, 01 March 2020 14:02

On February 28, 2020, a statement was released on the Official U.S. Government website to announce that the Company AAI Corp. (doing business as Textron Systems), Hunt Valley, Maryland, is awarded a $21,795,236 fixed-price incentive modification to previously awarded contract N00024-14-C-6322 for low rate initial production for the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) Unmanned Surface Vehicle Program.


Textron CUSV Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle. (Picture source Textron)

Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, Maryland (70%), and Slidell, Louisiana (30%), and is expected to be completed by August 2021.

The UISS will allow the littoral combat ship to perform its mine countermeasure sweep mission and will target acoustic, magnetic, and magnetic/acoustic combination mine types. The UISS program will satisfy the Navy's need for a rapid, wide-area coverage mine clearance capability, required to neutralize magnetic/acoustic influence mines. UISS seeks to provide a high area coverage rate in a small, lightweight package with minimal impact on the host platform.

The US Navy’s Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) programme will used the Textron Systems’ Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) designed to operate as part of the littoral combat ship (LCS) mine countermeasure (MCM) package. The UISS package consists of a mine countermeasure unmanned surface vessel (USV) and a towed minesweeping package that can detect magnetic, acoustic and combination mines.

The Textron CUSV is an Unmanned Surface Vessel designed to perform mine sweeping and neutralization operations, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), harbor security and monitoring or protection missions. It has an endurance of 20 hours and maximum range of 140 km.
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[*] posted on 13-3-2020 at 09:54 PM


Thales MCM USVs will enter service with Royal Navy and French Navy in 2020

Posted On Friday, 13 March 2020 11:22

Together, Thales and L3Harris have developed a new class of USV. The first of their kind, Artemis and Apollo represent an important step towards the next generation of MCM technology. The Unmanned Surface Vessels will enter service with the Royal Navy and French Navy in 2020.


Thales MCM USV during formation exercises (Picture source: Thales)

Inexpensive and easy to deploy, mines - which can be improvised by hostile forces - are a growing menace. Until now, clearing them has been a personnel intensive and slow and dangerous process, even with four ships on permanent deployment. But Thales is working with L3Harris under the terms of a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding to create Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV) to counter the threat safely and quickly.

Thales and L3Harris (formerly known as ASV Ltd) have a long-standing partnership which began in 2012 with the design, build and commissioning of the Halcyon USV. The versatile 11m USV served as a platform to test and develop new concepts of autonomous operation.

L3Harris is a good fit for Thales because of its impressive track record in building a variety of unmanned surface vehicle systems for military, security and offshore energy applications. The history of our partnership and this new agreement give us a great foundation for developing future market-leading capabilities while supporting Thales’ model of forming close partnerships across industry, SMEs and academia.

Together, Thales and L3Harris have developed a new class of USV. The first of their kind, Artemis and Apollo represent an important step towards the next generation of MCM technology.
These first two of these USVs will enter service with the Royal Navy and France’s Marine Nationale in 2020. The culmination of 4,000 hours of trials over a period of 4 years, the boats are equipped with a powerful autonomy engine and our Towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar, which work in unison to detect, classify and locate mines.

Live data and images are streamed to a control centre, which can be many kilometres distant, either on a ship or quayside. When a mine is located, the USV can be equipped to deploy a remotely operated vehicle, which is used to neutralise the threat through assured and accredited communications channels.

Unlike traditional systems on dedicated mine hunting and sweeping ships, Thales’s entire solution is designed to be packed up into a container and rapidly deployed anywhere in the world.

It can also be used in multiples and in concert with allied forces, making the clearing of a path through a minefield quicker and safer than ever before.
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