K-STER C mine disposal vehicle is being offered by ECA Group. Credit: ECA GROUP.
The mine disposal vehicle can be deployed from an unmanned surface vehicle. Credit: ECA GROUP.
The ROV has an endurance of 60 minutes. Credit: ECA GROUP.

K-STER C is a lightweight expendable mine disposal vehicle developed by ECA Group, a French producer of naval drones and unmanned systems.

The K-STER solution is in service with several navies globally and was selected by the Belgian and Royal Netherlands navies in 2019 as part of the modernisation of their MCM capabilities.

The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) is intended to perform underwater mine warfare missions. It can deactivate a sea mine either from a ship or land while keeping the crews away from the minefield.

The mine disposal vehicle can be easily deployed from an unmanned surface vehicle (USV), rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) and a mine countermeasure vessel (MCMV).

ECA Group demonstrated K-STER C minesweeper for MCM missions at Toulon harbour in February 2016. The company deployed K-STER ROV during the Open spirit exercise held in Lithuania in May 2019.

Orders and deliveries of K-STER C

The Lithuanian Navy placed an order for a batch of K-STER mine disposal vehicles in March 2020. The K-STER ROV was first inducted by the Lithuanian Navy in 2009.

ECA Group delivered K-STER C neutralisation ROVs to an Asian naval force in September 2018. The company delivered the first completely automated solution to an Asian navy for its USV in November 2017.

In September 2017, ECA Group delivered its K-STER I and K-STER C unmanned solutions to a Southeast Asian navy for integration on to its USV. The K-STER C expendable mine disposal system was also delivered to an undisclosed Asian navy in the same month of 2017.

Kazakhstan Navy selected the K-STER C system for its coastal mine-warfare solution in July 2015.

K-STER C mine disposal vehicle design and features

The K-STER C ROV has a length of 1.5m, a width of 0.5m and height of 0.43m. The weight of the mine disposal vehicle in the air is 50kg.

“It can deactivate a sea mine either from a ship or land while keeping the crews away from the minefield.”

The vehicle includes a tiltable shaped charge, which helps in neutralising all types of mines, including sea-bottom, floating, historical and modern. Its powerful shaped charge is made of highly insensitive explosive, which is also used for the shaped charges of torpedoes.

The tiltable warhead has the capacity to aim the targets at angles between +90° and -90°. It is fitted with a colour video camera with automatic day / night function and a searchlight.

Navigation and communications

The ROV is installed with user-friendly command and control software, which provides auto-piloting functions, and an ultra-short baseline (USBL) tracking system.

The vehicle integrates safety characteristics, including insensitive ammunition and multi-pole safety interlocks until the final firing.

The dual-frequency sonar helps in ensuring accurate approach and detecting long-range targets. User-friendly man-machine interface (MMI) enables the operator to perform operations in adverse conditions.

Located near the main control console, the secured dedicated link helps in securing the firing sequence.

Propulsion and performance of K-STER C

The K-STER C mine disposal vehicle is fitted with a lithium-ion (Li-ion) secondary battery that supplies power to two horizontal and two vertical thrusters.

The ROV has a nominal speed of up to 3k and can achieve a maximum speed of 6k. It can operate in waters with a maximum depth of 300m.

The operational range of the vehicle is up to 2,000m, while its endurance is 60 minutes.