French company ECA Group has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Australia’s Total Marine Technology (TMT) to jointly bid for a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) programme.

The two companies will partner to combine their expertise in unmanned technologies and place a joint offer to RAN, which seeks to bolster its maritime mine countermeasures and military survey capability using unmanned systems.

In April 2019, the SEA 1905 Maritime Mine Countermeasures (MCM) programme was announced to replace RAN’s four Huon-class Minehunter Coastal (MHC) ships.

The new vessels will utilise modular unmanned autonomous systems for detecting mines and military surveys.

The request for tender for SEA 1905 Phase 1 – Tranche 1 is expected to be launched in the fourth quarter of this year.

ECA Group and TMT are also engaged with potential local partners to further improve their offer for the first tranche of the programme.

TMT CEO Paul Colley said: “We believe the linking with ECA Group is a significant event which will unlock opportunities in the defence sector, through the provision of focussed and well implemented new technologies.

“The strengths of both companies are well suited to providing an integrated solution to address the rapidly developing area of undersea capability.

“To work collaboratively with the ECA GROUP is a real win for TMT. Their world leading technology in this sector will further enhance our ability to generate new skills and jobs as we seek to strengthen and diversify our core capability for future growth.”

According to ECA Group, the company’s systems support more than 30 navies, including the Royal Australian Navy.

In February, ECA Group’s UMISAS sonar completed sea trials.