iXblue to Ensure Safe Navigation for Belgian, Dutch & Polish Navies

04.05.2022 Security
iXblue to Ensure Safe Navigation for Belgian, Dutch & Polish Navies

iXblue to Ensure Safe Navigation for Belgian, Dutch & Polish Navies

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Mine Counter Measure Vehicles are increasingly using UUVs and USVs carried by a mothership to detect mines. Indeed, they can survey an area and approach potential threats without endangering the crew and main vessel.

The Belgian and Royal Netherlands Navies, recognized worldwide for their mine warfare expertise, are to be the first to deploy an unmanned systems-based Stand-off MCM capability to detect, identify, classify and neutralize sea mines. This innovative solution for robotic mine warfare will be developed by Belgium Naval & Robotics, a joint consortium formed by ECA Group and Naval Group. And iXblue naval technologies have just been tapped for what has been described as the largest European contract in naval robotics for the past 50 years.

This cutting-edge solution will include 12 new generation minehunters developed by Naval Group and equipped with a Toolbox from ECA Group. This toolbox will consist of a variety of aerial, surface and underwater drones that will be deployed to perform autonomous mine clearance missions at sea. By combining the latest generation of warships and a system of drones to counter mine risks at sea, this new innovative concept will keep humans out of danger, while ultimately increase the efficiency of MCM operations.

It is to assist ECA Group Toolbox drones in their missions and ensure their navigation, obstacle detection and avoidance, as well as subsea tracking and communication, that iXblue technologies have first been chosen.

SeapiX-FLS 5 Forward Looking Sonars, developed by the teams in La Ciotat, will thus be mounted on ECA Group USVs to perform obstacle avoidance, as well as real-time mapping, ensuring safety of navigation for the USVs.

The Acoustic division high-performance Gaps M7 USBL positioning and communication system and its respective transponders and beacons will also be mounted on the USVs and on the MCM ship of Naval Group to allow tracking of the AUVs and towed sonars. They will also ensure underwater communication between the AUVs and the USVs or the ships.

The Phins Compact Series of Inertial Navigation Systems developed by the teams in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (France) will be providing highly accurate and robust navigation to ECA Group USVs, subsea drones and towed sonars.

Not only has iXblue naval navigation technology been chosen for ECA Group’s toolbox, it will also be providing critical navigation capabilities to Naval Group new fleet of Mine Counter Measure (MCM) vessels, ensuring safer operations and bringing real superiority to the Belgium and Dutch Navies. On top of Inertial Navigation Systems, SeapiX-FLS 7 Forward Looking Sonars will be equipping each of the 12 new vessels, providing extremely accurate real-time mine and obstacle detection, as well as analysis of the seabed and detected objects, ensuring the protection of the MCM vessels and their crews.

Meanwhile, CortiX Obstacle Avoidance System (OAS) (made by Robopec, iXblue’s Robotics division) has been selected in 2021 by ECA Group to provide complete scene analysis for collision avoidance to their unmanned surface vehicles (USV). CortiX OAS is an AI based software that serves the critical role of merging visual and navigation data acquired by the USV’s various sensors, and of elaborating a safe and feasible route through the operation area.

Lastly, iXblue Inertial Navigation Systems have been selected to provide critical navigation capabilities to the Polish Navy’s new-build Kormoran II class mine countermeasure vessels (MCMV). iXblue partner, THESTA, will be responsible for integrating and delivering the INS to PGZ Stocznia Wojenna, a member of the PGZ Group, the leading contractor of naval navigation, communications and combat systems in Poland.

Developped as part of the Polish naval modernization program, the new class of modern mine countermeasure vessels will improve maritime safety and security in Polish waters. The vessels will be used to combat naval mine threats in the Polish exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and will also be deployed by the tactical task forces in the Baltic Sea and North Sea regions.


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