Following the first phase of the program in which two demonstrators have successfully proven their operational performances at sea, France and the United Kingdom marked the tenth anniversary of the Lancaster House treaties by signing a joint contract for Thales to start the production phase of MMCM to deliver eight unmanned mine hunting systems (four for France and four for the United Kingdom). This is a step change in capability, improving performances, productivity and removing the need to place members of the armed forces in harm’s way. It strengthens the leadership of the French Navy and Royal Navy as world leaders in both mine hunting and unmanned systems in the maritime domain.
The subsystems developed for the programme by Thales and its partners include Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV) to transport and connect solutions and a cutting-edge sonar (SAMDIS) offering unique Single Path Multi View capability to identify and classify threats. The SAMDIS sonar can be carried by Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) or by 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) capable of controlling up to three systems in parallel at sea.
With the threat of mines and improvised explosive devices present in all conflicts involving naval forces, countries need to strengthen the protection of their maritime domain, to ensure the protection of their assets and to safeguard the freedom of civil navigation. At the same time, it is essential to limit human exposure to mines. With 50 years of expertise serving navies around the world, Thales develops technologies that enable the transition from conventional solutions, such as minehunters, tounmanned solutions. The MMCM program is the first step in the renewal of the operational concept for mine warfare in France and the United Kingdom, based on the use of unmanned systems which could potentially replace traditional minehunters.
MMCM is the only proven system to offer advanced technologies, including autonomy, to improve performance and productivity thanks to the combination of unrivalled real time user experience using big data exchanges with trusted augmented artificial intelligence (A2I) to provide huge improvement of customer trust in operation clearance and increase the security of national interests. As a result of Thales’s open-architecture approach to MMCM, these new technologies can be easily integrated into the overall system, providing the navies with the opportunity to introduce new operational capabilities, in a planned way, throughout the life of the system. After the success of the first configuration conducted under real operational conditions with the complete system, Thales is now fully committed to deliver the first operational systems to French and British navies by 2022.