Belgium Naval & Robotics (BNR), a Naval Group and ECA Group consortium, has tested and demonstrated the capability of its launch and recovery system (LARS).

The industrial tests were carried out in Toulon, France and the solution proved its applicability for lateral deployment and recovery of drones in real conditions.

Four BNR-designed subsystems were brought together and tested on specially chartered vessel, VN Rebel.

The four subsystems are LARS, the floating dock to host uncrewed surface drones (USV), the security system, and ECA’s USV INSPECTOR 125 surface drone.

The test results were presented to the Royal Belgian and Dutch navies as part of the replacement mine counter measure (rMCM) programme.

Naval Group rMCM programme director Eric Perrot said: “We are delighted with the success of these tests of the new surface drone deployment and recovery systems. This performance is the result of the collaboration between multiple partners in this project, first and foremost ECA Group. We have great faith in this technology, and we thank the Belgian and Dutch navies for their confidence in us.”

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Around 30 consortium employees took part in the tests, which were conducted up to sea state 4/5, with 40 knots of wind.

The drones will allow the naval forces to perform mine clearance operations safely, away from harm’s way.

Once the solution is finalised, based on the analysis of the test results and information collection, the system will enter production in the second semester of this year.

ECA Group CEO Dominique Giannoni said: “Today’s demonstration shows the relevance of ECA Group’s drone deployment and recovery solution. It is a constant dialogue between the Naval Group and ECA Group teams that has allowed this great result of integration of our systems. We are fully committed to the success of this highly innovative programme.”

Under the Belgian-Dutch rMCM programme, 12 MCM vessels are planned to be built.

Kership, a Naval Group-Piriou joint venture, will manufacture the ships in Concarneau, France.

The keel for the first of vessel was laid by Naval Group on 30 November last year.