French company ECA Group has secured a new contract from an undisclosed Nato navy to deliver A9-M autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).

The A9-M AUVs will be used by Nato Marines for underwater target detection and classification applications in future mine countermeasures (MCM) operations at sea.

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A9-M underwater drones are designed to comply with Nato navy specifications and feature very low magnetic and acoustic signatures.

The AUVs are intended for use by mine disposal divers and operate safely even when close to the most sensitive mines. They can be easily deployed from on-board a small rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB).

The A9-M drone was designed by navigation, communication or underwater imagery specialist ECA Group, and was ultimately selected for its compact nature and operational performance.

"The AUV possesses an endurance of up to 20 hours, a maximum speed of up to 5k and can operate at depths ranging from 3m-200m."

It can be used as a standalone system to carry out the detection and classification phases.

Additionally, the AUV features two energy sections and possesses an endurance of up to 20 hours, a maximum speed of up to 5k and can operate at depths ranging from 3m-200m.

ECA Group received a contract from a Nato Navy for the delivery of two man portable A9-M AUVs in October 2015 for an amount of more than €1m.

The company also received a contract last year to upgrade the six autonomous A9-M units, which were originally delivered to French Navy's mine disposal divers in 2013.

Image: A9-M AUV nearing an underwater mine. Photo: courtesy of ECA Group.