The project is still into early phases, with contracts out for 3 technology demonstrators, aiming to develop commercial ROV technologies and integrate them into a military system. Two main strands are currently being pursued during the project's Assessment Phase;
- 1 - There is a joint UK-French project lead by Thales. The Maritime Mine Countermeasures (MMCM) demonstrator programme, under which an Anglo-French industry team led by Thales will prototype an unmanned 'system of systems' capable of performing end-to-end mine detection, classification, identification and neutralisation;
This part of the program is not just a vehicle, but a system of systems using the Thales HALCYON USV amongst other vehicles.
- 2 - The second main part is a UK only project lead by Atlas Elektronik for a new mine sweeper. The MHC Sweep capability demonstrator, under which Atlas Elektronik UK has been contracted to design and build a prototype multi-influence minesweeping system deployed from an 11 m unmanned surface vehicle (USV).
The system is called ARCIMS and uses an unmanned version of the Hazard motor boat, that will will tow the sweep equiptment. It is essential a development of the SWIMS system obtained as an Urgent Operational Requirement for iraq
- 3 - The third part is testing unmanned Hydrography equipment such as the REMUS 600 USV
Eventually around 2028 it is intended unmanned MCM will take over so this is a very slow transition to ensure the technology is fully matured and we maintain our world class MCM capabilities. Initially the unmanned systems will be operated from the hunt class which will be modified to launch and recover the vehicles more efficiently.
The above is an image from the royal navy publication the naval enginer, and shows how they system is indnded to look in the future. A single USV, acting as the surface platform for multiple underwater systems depending on the role. It is envisaged it will be rapidly air transportable, and operated from land or a simple sea based platform.
At present we have;
- ASV developing the unmanned surface vehicle / taxi
- ASV also integrating UUV with the taxi including Comms and Launch & Recovery
- kongsberg providing autonomous uderwater survay vehicles
- Atlas Elektronik developing a towed sweeper
- SAAB developing a mine hunter UUV and neutralizer
- Thales developing a portable control centre
- BAE developing a mission management system
- Also menton of a UAV as a comms node, but no contract yet.