Protecting the frontline mine hunters who keep our oceans safe
Thales in the UK is committed to working alongside the Royal Navy and maritime mine countermeasures (MCM) forces globally to deliver the sensors that help keep sea lanes open for international trade. We innovate tirelessly to counter emerging threats with new technologies in order to keep sailors as safe as possible while carrying out this vital task.
Today's mine countermeasures environment
More than 90 per cent of the world’s goods are transported by sea. At the same time, it has never been easier to close strategic choke points or disrupt sea lanes with mines.
There is an ongoing problem of legacy mines from the World Wars and Cold War era in parts of the world. In addition, mines with very low target strength are being developed, new materials and casing design making them increasingly difficult to detect.
Thales in the UK’s Maritime Mission Systems business leads the way in upgrading existing mine-hunting sensors. We are also harnessing emerging technology to create entirely new solutions that can differentiate modern mines from natural features and debris in our increasingly congested oceans.
Thales in the UK and the Royal Navy
Thales in the UK continues to foster the close relationship with the Royal Navy (RN) that began in the early days of sonar-based mine hunting technology. We are now established as the principal and trusted supplier of MCM sensors to the RN.
Our main sensor products are critical to the mine warfare role of the Sandown and Hunt Class mine countermeasures vessels and have been employed in operational theatres.
We have developed a close relationship with the RN at sea and Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) staff on the waterfront through the Sensor Support Optimisation Project (SSOP) within which Thales in the UK supports all RN sonar systems.
We also maintain an ongoing conversation with the RN around meeting future requirements with new capabilities. We host a biannual Mine Warfare Users’ Club for our customers worldwide at which the RN takes a leading role and, in November 2018, we will take part in the RN’s MCM conference in Portsmouth, an opportunity to listen both to users and decision-makers.
Current systems, new capabilities
Thales in the UK has been at the forefront of mine countermeasures sensor technology for more than 50 years. Our current market-leading products, 2093 variable depth and 2193 hull mounted sonar systems, form the backbone of mine countermeasures systems in naval forces in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
The 2193 wideband sonar supports MCM forces in the Baltic States dealing with legacy mines while 2093 is currently being delivered to the Republic of South Korea Navy to protect its territorial waters.
Responding to emerging threats, 2093 has been upgraded to introduce wideband technology under the Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP) enabling enhanced detection of lower target strength mines.
Developing mine countermeasures capability
While Thales in the UK continues to improve on existing products, we are also developing emerging technologies for entirely new solutions aimed at making the mine-hunting task safer and more effective for frontline operators.
Maritime Mine Countermeasures Programme (MMCM)
A joint programme between the UK and France to harness the potential of maritime autonomy in the mine-hunting role and reduce the risk to the sailor in the minefield. MMCM is a world first, a “system of systems” offering a mission package of integrated assets including sensors, unmanned surface and underwater vessels, communications, command and control (C2) and neutralisation systems. It will deliver a fully autonomous, end-to-end MCM capability. MMCM is due to undergo full trials with the Royal Navy and Marine Nationale in 2019.
Mine countermeasures and Hydrography Capability (MHC)
Thales in the UK plays a leading role in developing this capability for the Royal Navy, pulling through the MMCM system architecture to integrate both MCM and hydrographic functions into an autonomous solution that could eventually replace the RN’s manned platforms.
Thales in the UK’s MCM Command and Control (C2) system will allow better integration of conventional and autonomous MCM systems, with a full mission planning and execution capability.
Collaboration at Turnchapel Wharf
Thales in the UK’s first waterfront Systems Integration Facility is now operational. The refurbished site in Plymouth offers easy access to deep water trials areas and is close to the RN’s hydrography and sea training community as well as potential partners. We want Turnchapel Wharf to become the UK’s maritime autonomy centre of excellence, promoting collaboration with customers, industry and academia.
Thales and MCM: reducing the risk for sailors
Through a continuing tradition of technological innovation and close cooperation with the end user, Thales in the UK delivers mine countermeasures sensor systems with the purpose of reducing the risks faced by those frontline sailors who put themselves in harm’s way to make the world’s oceans safer for seafarers and protect the global economy.