The UK Royal Navy has launched its latest unmanned minehunting boat in the Arabian Gulf.
The development supports the British government’s continued efforts to strengthen its military cooperation with partners in the Middle East.
Called the Harrier, the vessel was developed to replace the UK’s aging mine-countermeasures (MCM) fleet in the region.
The 11-meter craft can be operated remotely from another ship, a shore-based control center, or programmed for autonomous missions.
It is equipped with a towed side-scan sonar for mine detection and early warning for land-based units.
British MCM Operability in the Middle East
The Harrier will sail alongside the RFA Cardigan Bay landing dock vessel for a separate series of trials.
The demonstrations will be integrated with underwater drones and minesweeping systems.
These tests will further validate the Royal Navy’s Atlas-built minehunter in warmer climates following its assessment in British waters.
“Our task is to prove this first iteration of the capability in an operational environment,” Royal Navy Mine Threat Exploitation Group Commander Lt. Cdr. Mark Shaw stated.
“This is a step change in the way the Royal Navy conducts MCM, and we are not just proving the equipment and operating procedures but setting the template on how we operate and integrate within the wider force.”
Sustaining Regional Security
A team of MCM battle staff will be deployed to operate the Harrier.
The personnel will come from the Royal Navy, the UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain, and other regional partner militaries.
“This is the future of Royal Navy MCM and we are proud to be at the leading edge of its delivery. The deployment of this cutting edge technology to the Gulf signals the UK’s commitment to the region and to freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce,” Shaw said.
“This activity marks the start of a period of new learning and discovery for the Royal Navy’s MHC programme, all while delivering meaningful operational output, and brings to reality this transformational approach to mine warfare in the Royal Navy,” Royal Navy Acquisition Director Cdre. Steve Prest added.