The construction of 12 new mine combat vessels for Belgium (six) and the Netherlands (six) has been contracted today at a high level, as Dutch State Secretary Barbara Visser, Belgian Defense Minister Didier Reynders, shipbuilder Naval Group and ECA Robotics signed the contract in Brussels. The latter company builds the mine-fighting drone systems with which the ships are equipped.
The contract 2,800-tonne naval vessels specialized in mine clearance. They are particularly quiet for this task and emit few electromagnetic waves. Both signals can trigger mines. They are also shockproof.
With the joint minehunting capability, Belgium and the Netherlands confirm their leading position in the field of defense cooperation. On signing, State Secretary Barbara Visser said: "I am grateful to the Belgian Ministry of Defense for the cooperation and the way in which the project has been implemented so far."
Extensive package of unmanned systems
The ships will receive an extensive package of unmanned surface and underwater systems. Take the unmanned Inspector 125 vessel. This innovative platform allows the ship and its crew to operate at a safe distance, and also increases employability.
The Inspector 125, in turn, has various drone systems on board that are linked to the mine control vessel’s combat system. These are autonomous A18-M underwater systems, T18-M towed sonar systems and mine identification and destruction systems, such as the remote-controlled Seascan and KSTER-C. All drones can be deployed from the Inspector 125. The package also includes flying and dredging drones. Each ship receives a total of around 10 drones.
Belgian-Dutch naval cooperation
The Belgian-Dutch navy cooperation (BENESAM) goes back a long way. There are joint and integrated staffs, education, training and operations. And, in addition to the joint purchase of mine-fighting capacity, the countries will also jointly purchase virtually identical M-frigates. This makes it possible to distribute the maintenance of these ship types among themselves.
Belgium is the leading party for the replacement of the mine clearance capacity and the Netherlands for the M-frigates.