Naval Group has announced that it has successfully tested its Launch and Recovery System (LARS) for unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), achieving
100% successful recoveries with an ECA Group Inspector 125 USV. The tests were performed at facilities owned by Naval Group’s Dutch partner MARIN, in conditions up to sea state 5/6 (significant waves of height 4m) and with incoming waves from all directions.
This launch and recovery concept for USVs operating in harsh maritime environments will be used for the Belgian-Dutch mine countermeasures (MCM) program, in which Belgium Naval Robotics – a Naval Group and ECA Group consortium – will provide twelve minehunting vessels for the Belgian and Dutch navies that can each launch two USVs. Each vessel will have one port and one starboard LARS located slightly aft of midship, with each LARS consisting of a pivoting A-frame and a USV housed in a floating cradle.
Previous tank tests were carried out at the MARIN facilities with a 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 efficiency of the propellers. 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 assess the dynamic aspects of the cradle handling.
Claude Bultot, the Belgian program director, commented: “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.”