The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a £25m contract to Atlas Elektronik UK to deliver the Royal Navy’s first uncrewed minesweeper.

Under the contract, the company will build three autonomous minesweeping systems designed to detect and destroy digital sea mines.

Dubbed ‘Combined Influence Minesweeping (SWEEP) system’, each of the minesweeper consists of an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) that ‘tows a sensor unit’ behind it.

Developed in the UK, the technology can be quickly deployed by land, sea and air. It has been designed to provide increased protection to military and commercial ships.

In addition, it allows sailors ‘to neutralise mines from a remote and safe distance’ at sea, while remaining safe during global operations.

UK DE&S CEO Sir Simon Bollom said: “This cutting-edge SWEEP technology follows hot on the heels of the contract negotiated for equally innovative autonomous minehunters and provides the Royal Navy with the increased capability they need to deal with modern mine threats.”

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The SWEEP minehunter contract will support more than 25 jobs in Dorset. It will also support an additional 48 positions throughout the supply chain.

The first minesweeping systems will be delivered late next year.

UK Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “This next-generation autonomous technology will be instrumental to our goal of protecting the safety and security of our personnel, while also reaffirming the UK’s unwavering commitment to improve the safety of international waters.”