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Belgium Tests Lateral Deployment, Recovery of Sea Drones

Belgium Naval & Robotics (BNR) has tested a new solution for launching, recovering, and maintaining surface drones as part of the replacement mine countermeasure program.

During the trial, four BNR-designed subsystems were brought together and tested on a specially chartered vessel under “sea state 4/5,” or with average, moderate waves to long, moderate waves. These were the launch and recovery system, the floating dock to host the drone, the security system, and the Inspector 125 surface drone.

According to a Naval Group press release, the solution proved its applicability for lateral deployment and recovery of drones under realistic conditions, allowing the naval forces to perform mine clearance operations safely.

“Deploying and retrieving robotic drones provides the dual strategic advantage of extending the action capability of ships equipped with the solution, but also of protecting personnel and ships,” Naval Group explained.

“Thanks to the stand-off solution proposed by BNR, the Belgian and Dutch naval forces will be able to rely on these drones for mine clearance operations while remaining at a safe distance.”

Once the solution is finalized and the test results are analyzed, the lateral deployment and recovery system will enter production in the second half of 2022.

‘Result of Collaboration’

ECA Group chief executive officer Dominique Giannoni stated that the trial shows the relevance of the company’s drone deployment and recovery solution. He also said that the collaboration of Belgian firms has yielded “great results” for the system.

Naval Group rMCM program director Eric Perrot also expressed his satisfaction at the test success, saying that the companies involved have “great faith” in the new technology.

“This performance is the result of the collaboration between multiple partners in this project, first and foremost ECA Group,” he remarked. “We thank the Belgian and Dutch navies for their confidence in us.”

A total of 12 ships ordered by the Belgian and Dutch navies will be equipped with the recently tested lateral deployment and recovery drone solution.

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