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France, UK Jointly Launch Unmanned Naval Minehunting Program

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UK and France Begin Build of Unmanned Mine Clearance Craft

(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued Oct 20, 2016)

The joint France/UK Maritime Mine Counter Measures program will be led by Thales and BAE Systems and include SAAB, ECA Group and ASV Global; this Thales graphic illustrates its general operating principles.

Today in Paris, the Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin and her French counterpart, Laurent Collet-Billon, launched the next phase of a £117 million joint Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) programme.

Working with our French allies, the MMCM programme will develop cutting edge maritime mine warfare capability; a capability which will keep the UK and France at the forefront of autonomous systems technology. The development and deployment of unmanned mine clearance vehicle will help keep our personnel safe in challenging maritime environments.

The Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:

“This innovative project further strengthens the UK-French defence relationship and supports cutting edge research on both sides of the Channel. The development of advanced autonomous mine counter measures capability will safeguard our strategic interests, secure aroun 150 jobs in the UK supply chain, and protect our brave and skilled personnel.”

The MMCM programme builds on the commitment of the 2010 Lancaster House Treaty to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the UK and France in order to improve collective defence capability within Europe and NATO.

Laurent Collet-Billon, Délégué Général pour l’Armement said:

“Harriett Baldwin, Minister for Defence Procurement, and I launched today the construction phase of the MMCM project, cornerstone of France’s “Système de lutte anti-mines future” (SLAMF) programme. It is a step further in the accomplishment of the strategy initiated since the Lancaster House Summit in 2010 aimed at strengthening the effectiveness and operational interoperability of our mine warfare systems, and to support the excellence of the Franco-British industrial base.”

Such cooperation allows the UK and France to share costs, build expertise, and increase the ability of our Armed Forces to work together effectively and flexibly. A prototype will be delivered to each navy in 2019.

Led by Thales, this joint programme draws on the expertise of companies from both sides of the Channel to the benefit of both nations. Work will be shared between UK and French supply chains, as will the considerable export opportunities arising from such innovative technology. The programme will secure around 150 jobs across the country, including Somerset, Manchester and Fareham. The delivery of the programme will also open up opportunities for further collaboration on equipment and operations, supporting the security and prosperity of both nations.

The Ministry of Defence’s Innovation Initiative will drive the development of advanced technology and create a culture that is innovative by instinct and international in scope. This commitment to innovation was on display recently at the Unmanned Warrior exercise in Scotland, during which 40 companies and organisations demonstrated the latest unmanned systems technology. This drive for international innovation will be further strengthened by UK-French collaboration on MMCM. The success of the programme’s design phase is testament to the benefits of such a cooperative approach.


French and British Industries to Develop Future Unmanned Naval Systems for Anglo-French MMCM Programme

(Source: Thales; issued Oct 20, 2016)

PARIS LE BOURGET --- Thales, BAE Systems and their partner SAAB, ECA Group and ASV Global welcome the confirmation by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) that the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) and French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) will continue their collaboration for the combined United Kingdom and France MMCM (maritime mine counter measures) programme.

Initiated in 2010 under a cooperation agreement between France and the United Kingdom, the MMCM programme develops a prototype autonomous system for detection and neutralisation of sea mines and underwater improvised explosive devices (UWIEDs).

The agreement signed at Euronaval today between Harriet Baldwin, Minister for Defence Procurement in the UK and Laurent Collet-Billon, General Director for French Procurement Agency, is a key milestone in the UK-French co-operation and the commitment to jointly develop future unmanned naval systems.

The next stage of the programme will involve taking the first-stage designs into a complete, manufactured system for assessment by the Royal Navy and the French Navy.

“From the depths of the oceans to the edges of the universe, Thales’ systems are performing at the cutting edge of technology. Today’s strategically important agreement is an excellent example of the Anglo-French co-operation inventing the world of tomorrow,” said Patrice Caine, Chairman & CEO of Thales.

BAE Systems Naval Ships Combat Systems Director, Richard Williams, add: “We are pleased to be starting stage two of the combined United Kingdom and French MMCM programme, which is a key milestone in the transformation of MCM capabilities and the future operational use of unmanned naval systems.”

Guénaël Guillerme, CEO of ECA Group, said “ECA Group has been providing both French and UK navies with MCM subsea robots for nearly 40 years. We are proud that our wide and unique experience in Autonomous Underwater Vehicles is recognised by those two navies in MMCM program.”

Dan Hook, Managing Director at ASV Global, said “This contract culminates years of collaborative development work around the use of autonomous systems for MMCM applications. We’re excited to progress to this next stage of the contract which will see the build of the next generation of MMCM platform following on from the Halcyon demonstrator platform showcased at the Royal Navy’s recent Unmanned Warrior exercise”.