ECA Group and iXblue have signed a contract for navigation, underwater positioning systems and obstacle avoidance sonars for mine countermeasures replacement programme for the Belgian and the Royal Netherlands navies.

ECA signed the agreement for the delivery of Forward Looking Sonars (FLS), along with inertial navigation and subsea positioning and communication systems.

The agreement with iXblue was signed as part of the programme to replace the Mine Counter Measures capability of both the navies, which includes the supply of 12 minehunters equipped with drones (Toolbox).

The Toolbox includes different drones that will be deployed to carry out autonomous mine clearance missions.

It consists of USV INSPECTOR125 surface drone, SKEDAR V-200 aerial drones, AUV A18-M underwater drones, T18 towed sonars for mine detection along with SEASCAN and K-STER C MIDS (Mine Identification and Disposal System) for identification and neutralisation of the mines.

The drones will carry out navigation, obstacle detection and avoidance, tracking of vehicles, and communication underwater between AUVs in the sea.

Under the ten-year agreement, iXblue will supply the equipment that will adhere to the performance standards specified by ECA.

The company will provide FLS 150 Forward Looking Sonars, high performance Gaps M7 USBL positioning and communication systems and Phins Compact Series inertial navigation systems (INS).

ECA Group programme director Louis Sambarino said: “We are very pleased to partner with iXblue, a leading expert in the field of navigation, subsea positioning and imagery.

“Our respective domains of expertise are complementary and our teams have already been working efficiently in the past. It is an important partnership for us, I am confident in the realisation of our next steps within the Belgian-Dutch MCM programme.”

Last month, ECA Robotics was contracted to build and supply unmanned vehicles for the Belgian and the Royal Netherlands navies.