Thales conducts 1st operations of naval systems of MMCM program
According to information released by the Thales Group website on July 16, 2020, Thales has announced the success of the first configuration conducted under real operational conditions with the complete system developed for the Franco-British MMCM (Maritime Mine Counter Measures) program launched in 2010 and awarded to the Group in 2015. This maiden mission was organized off the coast of Brest at the end of June 2020 in the presence of officials from both nations.
Over a period of a week, the minehunting mission completed four operational scenarios using all the subsystems developed for the programme by Thales and its partners: the unmanned surface vessel (USV) with its volume search sonar, the towed array sonar, two unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) equipped with the SAMDIS sonar, and the robotic mine neutralisation system. This comprehensive mission included several sequences combining autonomous vehicles with high-level automated functions remotely controlled from the operational command centre via a secure communication system.
The first two scenarios involved end-to-end threat detection, classification and localisation throughout the mission. In the third scenario, readings were compared with data from an earlier mission to detect changes, and the last scenario entailed relocation and identification of several mines, and neutralisation of one of them. With all the threats positively detected and the robotic neutralisation procedure completed as planned, the mission was a success from beginning to end and confirmed the excellent operational performance of all the systems deployed.
Christophe Serrat, OCCAR Programme manager, FR/UK MMCM said , "With this latest milestone, the MMCM programme has delivered the only operational system-of-systems of its kind in the world. This pioneering mission further consolidates Thales's world leadership in both conventional mine countermeasures and the new generation of solutions based on a combination of autonomous and remotely operated systems. This uniquely complex programme brings major innovations in the service of the safety of the seas, seafarers and citizens."
The Franco-British MMCM (Maritime Mine Countermeasures) program includes Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs), a super-performing new sonar (SAMDIS) carried by Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) or towed by USV, and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). Remotely controlled by expert operators from a Portable Operational Centre (POC), these would break new ground in collaboration and autonomy. The solution would also be highly portable—being flown to mined areas in hours, rather than having to sail there over weeks—when needed to support distant coalition operations.