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NAVDEX 2023: Autonomous minehunter arrives in the Gulf for trials

14th February 2023 - 09:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


RMNB Harrier alongside the Sandown-class MCMV HMS Bangor. (Photo: UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

The trials will test the ability of the system to operate in the high-stress and high-heat environment of the Arabian Gulf.

An uncrewed minehunting boat from the UK RN has arrived in the Gulf, in a significant step towards the operational fielding of autonomous minehunting systems.

The boat, RNMB Harrier, is part of a ten-year programme that aims to replace the RN's existing fleet of crewed mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs) with autonomous and uncrewed capabilities.

In the Gulf, the USV will work with host ship LSD(A) RFA Cardigan Bay to conduct a series of demonstrations and prove its ability to operate in the region's conditions.

Cdre Steve Prest, Director Navy Acquisition, said: 'It is thrilling to see the first unit of minehunting capability (MHC) equipment deployed on operations to undertake its operational evaluation phase.'

Harrier can operate autonomously or remotely from an afloat or ashore control centre.

The USV tows a side-scan sonar to look for mines and alert other units of the whereabouts of the threat.

In future, the systems will also work with remotely operated UUVs and a minesweeper.

The vessel was previously deployed in Faslane, Scotland.

Lt Cdr Mark Shaw, CO of Mission System Team One in the Mine Threat Exploitation Group, said: 'Our task is to prove this first iteration of the capability in an operational environment. This is a step-change in the way the Royal Navy conducts MCM, and we are not just proving the equipment and operating procedures but setting the template on how we operate and integrate within the wider force.'


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