ECA GROUP selected in three European defence research projects within the EDIDP programme
In order to reinforce the competitiveness of the European defence industry, the European Union has set up the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP). With a budget of 500 M€ for 2019 and 2020, it reinforces the research efforts of companies and public laboratories in terms of defence equipment and technology development. It represents an important stage in the implementation of the European Defence Fund, the objective of which is to strengthen the EU’s strategic autonomy by supporting investments in research, cooperation between manufacturers and by improving equipment interoperability. The European Commission has recently published the list of consortia chosen in the framework of the EDIDP 2020 programme which cover a wide spectrum of different subjects. ECA GROUP is proud to be present in three of these collectives: MIRICLE, CUIIS and USSPS. The “Mine Risk Clearance for Europe" (MIRICLE) project brings together 19 partners and 10 member states. It aims to develop the main components of a mine warfare solution such as a mission planning and monitoring system, secure communication network, mine warfare ship and robots, all taking advantage of the latest advances in artificial intelligence. Coordinated by Belgium, this project will allow new operational capabilities to be designed which will ultimately complete those that ECA GROUP and its partner Naval Group will deliver to the Belgian and Royal Netherlands navies, in the framework of the contract to replace their naval mine warfare capabilities. Ultimately, the objective is to integrate these new capabilities in the mine warfare system, whose paradigm is based on the “stand-off” principle, that is the simultaneous deployment of a team of multi-environment autonomous robots from a naval platform which remains outside the minefield, thus minimizing the risks of human and asset losses, while improving operational efficiency thanks to parallel task performance (rMCMV : remote Mine Counter Measure Vessel).
The “Comprehensive Underwater Intervention Information System” (CUIIS)project will develop underwater technologies for the physical support and recovery of combat divers. It will concentrate on the field of underwater technologies, building a C4I (command, control, communications and information) mission system for underwater management and monitoring, the positioning, navigation and cooperation between personnel and drone systems. It will provide solutions for reducing the risk of Decompression Sickness and will merge different types of information to create and share an image of the underwater situation in real time. It will enable the interoperability, coordination and resolution of conflicts between the different underwater systems. ECA GROUP will concentrate in particular on the cooperation between a large number of divers and underwater drones.
Lastly the “Development of Unmanned Semi-fixed Sea Platforms for Maritime Surveillance” (USSPS) project focuses on the definition, design and prototyping of an unmanned surveillance platform deployed at sea. It will form the backbone of a command, control, communication, computers, combat systems, intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (C5ISTAR) future federated system of systems. The USSPS will integrate legacy systems with innovative solutions, aiming to improve maritime surveillance capabilities, reducing the utilization of high value assets and mission-related costs, and provide cross-domain permanent awareness of the maritime situation. Building on what already exists in the Oil & Gas domain, the project will develop a highly autonomous, energy efficient miniaturized platform, capable of integrating a large range of air, surface and underwater sensors. It will be possible to implement these platforms anywhere in the world, whatever the sea-bed type and depth. ECA GROUP will also bring its know-how and experience to this project and will work on the interfaces between the platform and drones, so that they may be launched and recovered from the platform.
All the projects will last 2 years, the time necessary for each player to develop the first technological bricks necessary for the constitution of the final objective. They represent concrete financial support which will accelerate research and development in domains representing the future of the defence market. The presence of ECA GROUP in these consortia strengthens the company’s position as a major player in the European defence industry and a reference for maritime robotic systems.