The unmanned surface vehicle (USV) of the SLAMF program (Système de Lutte Anti-Mines Futur, or future mine counter-measures system) carried out a demonstration of its capabilities in Brest harbor on June 6, 2019. A demonstration carried out with the assistance of DGA Naval Techniques which set out work out the exercise mines.
Developed in cooperation with the United Kingdom initiated in 2010 as part of the Lancaster House agreement, SLAMF will renew France’s mine warfare capabilities in the next decade. The launch of the prototype took place just over two years ago, to prepare for the implementation phase to begin in 2020.
The SLAMF system includes a remote-controlled robot (ROV) to identify and neutralize mines, three underwater drones (AUV) and a surface drone (USV) equipped with a towed sonar to detect, classify and locate (DCL) the mines. It is the latter, the surface drone, which was demonstrated in the harbor of Brest.
Under the watchful eyes of the French, British and Occar delegations, gathered at the command & control (C2) center, the AUV surface drone was tasked to demonstrate its ability to perform its DCL duties. Once in the operations area, the USV deployed its towed sonar which was able to transmit the sonar images in real time to the C2 operator. Challenge identified: the binomial operator-USV has detected, classified and located in record time all the different kinds of exercise mines deployed by DGA Naval Techniques.
Note that a variant of the ROV, immersed in a pool with a mine placed at the bottom of the basin, was also performed during this day to demonstrate on the one hand the maneuverability of the vehicle, and on the other hand to unveil the imaging capabilities of its approach sonar and the video imaging of its onboard camera.
At the end of this sequence, the delegations went to the naval base to observe the USV at pierside. They were able to board and observe the compactness of this sophisticated equipment.
The qualification review of SLAMF is scheduled for December 2019. By then, the components of the system must have been individually validated. This supposes a heavy schedule: in particular, the qualification of the DCL functions with the AUV must take place in August, that of the ROV neutralization subsystem in October and those of the DCL functions of the USV in November.
From 2020, tests will be conducted on operational scenarios in the Brest area and in Great Britain to complete this qualification.