The Egyptian Navy has awarded a $10.6m contract for unmanned undersea vehicles (UUV) to US-based technical services support company Columbia Group.

Under the contract the company will provide three Pluto Plus UUVs including support and training to the navy under the foreign military sales programme.

The Pluto Plus system is operated by a remote control console from the surface and is primarily designed for mine hunting and mine destruction. The Pluto Plus is battery operated and carries a set of specialised sensors ranging from TV cameras to sonar.

The craft is propelled by electrical thrusters and is linked to the surface by an umbilical cable. On the surface, the pilot operates a remote control console and receives information to navigate the vehicle and identify underwater objects.

The UUV has a very low acoustic and magnetic signature, which allows it to get close to mines for inspection and destruction.

The work will be carried out in Panama City, Florida, and is expected to be complete by December 2011.