Thales has begun the production phase of its Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) program in order to deliver eight unmanned mine hunting systems to the United Kingdom and France. This program is the first step in revolutionising counter-mine warfare for both countries, potentially leading to unmanned systems replacing traditional minehunters.
The MMCM solution is based around unmanned surface vessels (USVs), and an advanced sonar, known as SAMDIS, that uses unique Single Path Multi View capability to identify and classify threats. The sonar can be carried by an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) or by a Towed Synthetic Aperture Multiviews (TSAM) vehicle operated from the USV. The USV can also carry a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to neutralize the threats. The entire system is remotely supervised by operators working from a Portable Operational Centre (POC) that is capable of controlling up to three systems in parallel at sea.
MMCM makes use of state-of-the-art technologies such as autonomy to improve performance and productivity, combining big data exchanges with trusted augmented artificial intelligence (A2I) capabilities. Thanks to Thales’s open-architecture approach to MMCM, these new technologies can be easily integrated into the overall system, providing navies with the opportunity to introduce new operational capabilities in a planned way throughout the life of the system.
The complete system has been tested and demonstrated under real operational scenarios at sea during Phase 1 of the program. This production run marks the beginning of Phase 2, allowing the French and British Navies to equip themselves with what Thales claims is the world’s first fully integrated unmanned mine countermeasures system of systems.
Alexis Morel, VP of Underwater Systems at Thales, commented: “Thales is grateful to France and the United Kingdom for trusting such an important technology transition with the Thales teams in France and the UK. To date during trials, the MMCM systems and its assets have covered the equivalent of 30.000 soccer fields at sea, sometimes with very rough sea conditions. This is indeed a step change in how Navies will be able to respond in the future to vicious threats such as mines and improvised explosive devices at sea.”