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Atlas Elektronik UK to supply Royal Navy with autonomous underwater vehicles

Atlas Elektronik UK Mine Hunting Capability AUV System combines the company's SeaCat AUV, fitted with the latest high-resolution Vision Synthetic Aperture Sonar. (Atlas Elektronik UK)

The UK Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Mine Hunting Capability (MHC) team has awarded a GBP32 million (USD41.6 million) contract to Atlas Elektronik UK (AEUK) for autonomous mine-hunting systems, the company announced on 12 April.

The company will supply the Royal Navy (RN) with three MHC autonomous underwater vessel (AUV) systems. Each system will encompass three SeaCat vehicles configured with a synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) system and Seebyte Neptune's advanced planning and analysis software, comprising nine vehicles, AEUK added.

According to a DE&S announcement, the first MHC AUV or medium autonomous underwater vessel (MAUV) systems are expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2023, and will help to detect and neutralise mines, while being controlled remotely by operators at sea or on land.

AEUK has collaborated with Lidan Marine to develop a remote AUV handling system for the MHC AUV project, providing a launch-and-recovery system suitable for operations from platforms such as the RN's ATLAS Remote Combined Influence Minesweeping System (ARCIMS) unmanned surface vessels and SEA Class work boats, the company said.

The MHC AUVs will become part of a “system of systems” that will enable the RN to search, identify, and neutralise mines from a remote distance. It will support other autonomous assets including the Anglo-French Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) and combined influence sweep (SWEEP) systems, the DE&S announcement said.

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