France has signed a formal agreement with Belgium and the Netherlands to join the two countries’ mine countermeasure ship project.
Signed at the Euronaval international exhibition in Paris, the cooperation is aimed at promoting synergies to increase the effectiveness of the participants’ respective programs.
More specifically, France has committed to launch the design of the French MCM vessels on the basis of the vessels designed under the joint Belgian-Dutch Oostende-class MCM program.
Belgium and the Netherlands officially began construction of the first MCM ship with a steel-cutting ceremony in France, in November last year. French shipbuilder Piriou is part of the Belgium Naval & Robotics consortium responsible for delivering 12 MCM vessels for the navies of Belgium and the Netherlands that will replace the Tripartite-class minehunters currently in service.
France is expected to place an order for its own ships in 2023, with a delivery date under discussion. Belgium and the Netherlands expect to receive their first ship in late 2024, with the first unit going to Belgium.
With France joining the program, the three countries will be building on a thirty-year cooperation, as all three navies operated Tripartite-class minehunters.
The new ships will displace 2800 tons and will be geared for mine warfare with acoustic and electromagnetic discretion, as well as shock resistance features.
Each ship will be equipped with complete drone systems (toolboxes) that will comprise over a hundred underwater, surface and aerial drones fully dedicated to mines countermeasures.
These will include ECA Group’s Inspector 125 unmanned surface vehicles (USV) integrated into the C2 MCM Umisoft system connected to the Naval Group’s I4drones system to form the mine-warfare mission system integrated into the ship’s combat system.