New unmanned surface vehicle in the works
Thales UK announced on 3 July that it has signed a contract with Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASV) to develop a re-configurable USV to meet the challenges of future off-board mine countermeasures (MCM) operations.
According to Thales, the vessel has been jointly designed to meet a number of key requirements and drivers, including that it be deployable from military platforms, craft of opportunity and from shore/harbour, air transportable, and with a payload flexibility for all MCM systems – unmanned underwater vehicles, towed sonar, disposal systems and minesweeping.
It will also meet requirements to be a ‘stable platform with excellent slow speed and towing capabilities’, and ‘highly reliable & cost effective’.
The low signature USV, which is 11.5m in length and 3.6m in beam, will have a maximum speed of around 25 knots. The vehicle is now under construction and will be undergoing acceptance trials later this year. The company said that a series of payload trials will be conducted from early 2013 onwards, drawing on experience gained in previous off-board system programmes.
Phil Naybour, head of Thales UK’s naval business, commented: ‘As the MCM capability integrator of over half the world’s in-service fleet of minehunters, Thales brings many years of experience and understanding of mine warfare operations alongside world-class sensors and systems.
‘As we head into an era that heralds a step change in the delivery of mine warfare, moving from dedicated MCMVs to off-board systems and sensors, Thales’s extensive capabilities in mission system integration are being brought to bear.
'The USV will be central to the success of these new concepts of operation in mine warfare; being able to demonstrate and de-risk both the vehicle and its potential payloads is a clear benefit to both our customers and ourselves. We welcome the news of this contract signature with ASV as it represents a critical step towards the delivery of future off-board MCM capability.’
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