Thales, a global player in defence technology, has unveiled a solution to bolster the French Navy’s mine countermeasures capabilities.

The newly developed Expeditionary Portable Operations Centre (e-POC) is expected to improve naval operations by integrating advanced unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) into minesweeping missions.

Thales responded swiftly to the French Navy’s needs by crafting the e-POC in less than six months. This demonstrator, equipped with technology, offers a lightweight yet fully functional mission planning, management, and analysis platform.

Unlike conventional methods, the e-POC is a compact and transportable operations centre, empowering naval operators to simultaneously oversee up to three underwater minehunting drones. This flexibility and control enhances force agility, enabling swift responses to emerging threats in dynamic maritime environments.

The e-POC’s significance lies in its potential to improve mine countermeasures missions. By leveraging UUVs, the French Navy can now conduct operations with minimal risk to personnel, ensuring enhanced safety and operational effectiveness.

France and the UK are cooperating on the MMCM/SLAM-F programme to develop a family of autonomous USV and UUV platforms for mine countermeasure missions, according to GlobalData’s “Thematic Intelligence: Unmanned Maritime Vehicles 2023” report. 

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Gwendoline Blandin-Roger, vice president of Underwater Systems at Thales, expressed confidence in the e-POC’s ability, stating, “Thales has combined the power of innovation with the agility of its development teams to augment the defensive capabilities of the French Navy. 

The e-POC solution is designed for rapid deployment into any theatre of operations, making a valuable contribution to future mine countermeasures missions and helping to guarantee the safety of naval personnel.”

Naturally, French-based Thales and the French Navy have familial ties. Recent developments between the two parties include Thales securing a contract from the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to equip upcoming offshore patrol vessels of the French Navy with advanced maritime surveillance technologies, including Bluewatcher sonar, NS50 radar, and TSA 3522 IFF system. 

Scheduled for service in 2024, these vessels will support intelligence, deterrence, and scouting roles, focusing on escorting nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.