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The Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) Programme

New UK-French mine countermeasures contract awarded

On behalf of the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) in France and UK MOD’s Defence Equipment & Support organisation, OCCAR has awarded the Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) contract to Thales, in collaboration with BAE Systems and their partners in France (ECA) and in the UK (ASV, Wood & Douglas, SAAB). Initiated in 2012 under a cooperation agreement between France and the United Kingdom, the MMCM programme develops a prototype autonomous system for detection and neutralisation of sea mines and underwater improvised explosive devices (UWIEDs).
The MMCM contract includes three stages, starting with a first phase for design. The next stages, which are subject to contract options, will manufacture and experiment the future mine countermeasures capabilities of both France (SLAM-F future mine countermeasures system) and the United Kingdom (MHC – Minecountermeasures and Hydrography Capability). The programme will deliver an autonomous, remotely operated mine countermeasures solution.

As part of the MMCM programme, Thales and BAE Systems are committed to providing systems to both the French Navy and Royal Navy for two years of evaluation testing. Each system will comprise a USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicle) equipped with an autonomous navigation system, an obstacle detection and avoidance sonar, a threat identification and neutralisation capability based on ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles), a T-SAS (Towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar) and AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles). The geolocated AUVs will use the latest-generation synthetic aperture sonar SAMDIS with multi-aspect functionality for improved classification. They will perform their tasks autonomously with control from a host ship or shore-based station via high-data-rate communication links.
The systems, meeting the operational requirements of both nations, incorporate state-of-the-art technologies including very high-resolution multiview imaging sonars and sophisticated analysis tools to provide unparalleled levels of performance in automatic threat recognition and classification.
The project will be delivered by an integrated team including personnel from Thales in France and the UK as well as BAE Systems.  French and UK contractors involved in the MMCM system include ASV Ltd for the supply of the surface vehicle, ECA for the supply of the underwater unmanned vehicles, SAAB for the ROVs and Wood & Douglas for communications.
Thales will deliver the integrated Portable Operations Centre (POC) solution, which will incorporate command & control by Thales and BAE Systems. BAE Systems will provide the Mission Management System, managing the command and information systems, as well as the ROVs, the virtual visualization and experimentation suite.
The launch of this programme builds on the Lancaster House defence and security cooperation treaties signed in November 2010 and follows on from the Franco-British summit held on 31 January 2014. 
Key points
  • The MMCM programme is a key milestone in the transformation of mine countermeasures capabilities and the future operational use of unmanned naval systems.
  • This major French-UK programme will develop a key new industrial capability for underwater and robotic detection.
  • Split equally between the two nations, the programme will rely on innovations with an advanced level of technological maturity.

Our Combat Systems team

Our combat systems form the ‘brains’ of complex warships and submarines, which crew members depend on to operate effectively in the world’s most difficult and dangerous environments.

Our Combat Systems team has more than 45 years of experience in the design, development and integration of state-of-the-art naval combat systems for every major surface ship and submarine in the Royal Navy’s fleet and they’re in operation with more than 20 navies around the world.

The NAUTIS Command and Control system

The latest generation of NAUTIS will be at the heart of the MMCM programme. Its proven technology designed to combat the increasing threat posed by ever more sophisticated mines. NAUTIS is currently in-service with the Royal Navy, as well as the Turkish Navy, Royal Saudi Navy, Royal Australian Navy and other navies around the world.
BAE Systems has also successfully undertaken technology transfers with NAUTIS, allowing the software and hardware to form the basis of customer-developed command systems.
NAUTIS controls all the combat systems and platform equipment essential to mine countermeasures mission effectiveness, with particular emphasis on situation awareness, mission planning, precise navigation, minehunting sonar, unmanned vehicles and ship control.