France’s ECA Group has selected the SKELDAR V-200 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as a system of choice for the fleet of 12 mine countermeasures vessels that will be built for the navies of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Working across 12 new-generation ships (six each for the Belgian and Royal Netherlands navies), this contract is the first to materialize the stand-off concept by using a toolbox composed of a variety of drones to be deployed by operators in order to fulfill autonomous mine clearance missions at sea.
The V-200 UAV will be an integrated part of the toolbox, which will also consist of unmanned surface vessel INSPECTOR125, underwater drones A18M and towed sonars T18 for mine detection, alongside the SEASCAN and K-STER mine identification and disposal systems.
This is the second success for the UMS AERO Group and Saab joint venture, whose V-200 heavy fuel vertical take off and landing (VTOL) UAV was previously selected to fly from the German Navy’s K130 corvettes.
V-200 deliveries for the joint Belgian-Dutch program are expected to start in 2023.
“The SKELDAR V-200 is undoubtedly an essential asset in the stand-off concept. This UAV with its integrated sensors and endurance will improve the situational awareness and enhance the detection process in the mine threat area. Ultimately, this will result in a more efficient and safer mission for our valuable crewmembers,” said Cdr SG Claude Bultot, program director for the Belgian and Royal Netherlands navies.
The 12 MCM ships will be delivered by Belgium Naval Robotics – a Naval Group and ECA Group consortium. The joint program to replace the two countries’ ageing Tripartite-class minehunters is scheduled to deliver the first ship in 2024.