ECA Group has announced plans to build its new plant in the Port of Ostend, Belgium, to manufacture naval drones for mine clearance.

The company is building the plant to carry out the contract for the supply of its unmanned systems for the 12 minesweepers of the Belgian and Dutch navies.

Last year, Naval Group and ECA Group’s consortium Belgium Naval & Robotics secured a contract from the navies of both countries to supply 12 minesweepers and the dedicated unmanned systems for mine clearance at sea.

Many companies in Belgium are involved in the contract, which is valued at around $2bn, as partners and suppliers.

The two companies have established subsidiaries in the country to facilitate these exchanges.

The next generation of naval drones (submarines and surface) for the contract will be manufactured by ECA Group’s subsidiary ECA Robotics Belgium at the Ostend plant.

ECA Robotics Belgium CEO Steven Luys said: “We are pleased to build our factory in the Port of Oostende, near the navy and with direct access to the North Sea.”

Port of Ostend will grant a concession to ECA Group for the construction of the plant on the former site of Beliard in the port area. The plant has a surface area of 5,000m² and will be operational in 2022.

An investment of around €10m will be made for the construction of the plant and the start of production.

Drones to be produced included the submarine drone A18-M, the towed sonar T18-M, the surface drone (USV) INSPECTOR 125 and the mine inspection and neutralisation drones (ROV MIDS) Seascan and K-STER.