The A9-M autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) was developed by ECA Group. Credit: ECA Group.
The AUV was demonstrated at International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX-16) in Persian Gulf in April 2016. Credit: ECA Group.
The vehicle can offer endurance up to 20 hours. Credit: ECA Group.

A9-M is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) designed and manufactured by ECA Group. The AUV is specifically developed to serve the requirements of navies across the globe.

The vehicle offers more reliability and compactness compared to other AUVs in the mid-sized AUV segment. It can perform a range of mine countermeasure missions (MCM), such as mine warfare survey, identification, analysis and classification of underwater mines.

The AUV is compliant with the STANAG 1364 regulations and can be easily deployed using small crafts, rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) and other unmanned surface vessels (USVs).

The AUV was successfully demonstrated by ECA Group at the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX-16), held at the Persian Gulf in April 2016, and Open Spirit 2018 exercises.

The AUV successfully demonstrated its reliability, operational efficiency and underwater mine warfare capability during the exercises.

A9-M AUV design and features

The underwater vehicle was developed by incorporating modular architectural techniques, which allow easy maintenance of the vehicle. The compact structure of the vehicle enables operators to use it for a wide variety of MCM missions. It can classify the mine objects based on the ambient conditions and seabed type.

The AUV can be deployed even in the harshest environmental conditions and can withstand high turbulence from the waves. It produces very low magnetic and acoustic signatures to avoid triggering sensitive underwater mines.

The vehicle can be easily integrated into unmanned mine countermeasures systems (UMCMS) and associated with USVs and mine disposal vehicles (MDVs), including K-STER C and SEASCAN MK2.

The AUV has a length of 2m and body diameter of 0.23m. It can operate at an operational depth from 3m to 200m, which can be extended based on mission requirements. The weight of the underwater vehicle is 70kg.

Payloads and sensors of A9-M AUV

The A9-M AUV features a range of payloads to serve multiple mission requirements. It is equipped with an advanced side-scan sonar that offers a high degree of accuracy in the detection and classification of mines.

The sonar uses 455kHz, 900kHz or 600kHz dual simultaneous frequencies. The across-track resolution of the sonar is 2.4cm, while the horizontal beam width is 0.34º. The swath range offered by the sonar is approximately 2bx 150m at 455kHz and 2bx 75m at 900kHz.

Other major payloads on board the vehicle include high-definition video equipment, conductivity, temperature and density (CTD) sensor suite and environmental sensors. The vehicle is further equipped with an obstacle-avoidance system, fault and leak detection equipment, strobe light, local remote control, and emergency alerting system.

It can be optionally fitted with payloads such as an ultra-short baseline (USBL) tracking system, interferometric side-scan sonar, as well as handling and maintenance tools.

Navigation and communication

The navigational requirements of the unmanned underwater vehicle are served by an inertial navigation system, doppler velocity log (DVL) and global positioning system (GPS).

The on-board communication equipment includes radios, in-built Wi-Fi, Ethernet, acoustic and optional satellite communication systems.

A9-M AUV propulsion and performance

The A9-M AUV is equipped with an energy unit, which has the capacity to generate a maximum power of 2.1kWh. The vehicle can attain a maximum speed of 5k and navigate at a nominal speed of 3k.

The AUV offers a maximum endurance of 20 hours when fitted with two energy sections.