A consortium between NAVAL GROUP and ECA ROBOTICS, known as BELGIUM NAVAL & ROBOTICS, has been specifically set up to participate in the tender. ECA ROBOTICS BELGIUM will carry out and coordinate all ECA GROUP activities in Belgium related to unmanned systems to be deployed by mine hunters, as part of the Belgian government programme.
On the occasion of this event, Guénaël GUILLERME, Chief Executive of ECA GROUP, said: “
We are looking forward to the idea of strengthening our cooperation with the Belgian Defence, industry and academic world. I remember visiting several Belgian partners involved in the production of the PAP-robot 20 years ago. The development of this new subsidiary will therefore consolidate more than 30 years collaboration with Belgium in terms of robotics and mine clearance at sea that started with the mine clearance robots PAP on CMT - Tripartite Mine Hunters - then built for France by NAVAL GROUP. ECA ROBOTICS BELGIUM will contribute to Belgian excellence in terms of mine counter measures”.
BELGIUM NAVAL & ROBOTICS therefore falls within the direct heritage of the consortium that resulted in Tripartite Mine Hunters, combining the expertise in naval robotics from ECA GROUP with physical and functional integration of drones aboard and protection of military ships against impacts and follow-up of the ships during their entire life cycle provided by NAVAL GROUP.
Both companies have also acquired extensive partnership experience with client navies from many countries around the world by getting locally involved with industries in these countries.
ECA ROBOTICS BELGIUM and NAVAL GROUP will give Belgium strategic autonomy with regard to unmanned systems and the evolution of the programme:
These two components are the most critical elements and those that will be most likely to evolve in the lifetime of the ships. Controlling this development in Belgium is essential for the Belgium’s strategic autonomy in terms of under mine clearance. In order to manage the developments of the USV in an optimal way, the naval architecture subsidiary of ECA GROUP, MAURIC, will join ECA ROBOTICS BELGIUM on site for the design and developments of the platform and the surface drones.
The choice to establish ECA ROBOTICS BELGIUM in Zeebrugge is particularly strategic. This centre, associated with a number of Belgian suppliers and partners, will gradually master the various skills related to the drones as the production of the programme progresses.
These skills will therefore be available near ships and maintenance workshops of the naval base. ECA ROBOTICS BELGIUM will thus be able to respond very fast and use its skills and experience for the maintenance of the drones. Besides, this location is also close to FLANDERS SHIP REPAIR (FSR) (see press release of 11/14/2018), the partner of NAVAL GROUP looking after all maintenance activities in Belgium with regard to ships and navy maintenance workshops. This proximity will ensure better coordination between maintenance of platforms and maintenance of drones.
ECA ROBOTICS BELGIUM and the Belgian subsidiary of NAVAL GROUP will export these mine counter measures solutions from Belgium, including drones that have been supplied as part of the programme. This export activity will benefit from the experience and the excellent export reputation of the Belgian and Dutch navies with regard to mine clearance at sea, in particular because of their role within the NATO. All of the mine action systems and the associated drones sold abroad will be produced in Belgium.
These unmanned systems will follow the technological developments and evolve accordingly. ECA ROBOTICS BELGIUM has set up partnerships with the academic world and industry in Belgium for this development, in particular in key areas such as artificial intelligence. The technological developments of drones and the system that allow a better decision-making autonomy of the drones, a better detection of the mines... will be managed and controlled in Belgium for the future development of unmanned systems for remote mine clearance intended for the Belgian and Dutch navies as well as for navies abroad.
ECA ROBOTICS BELGIUM will have two principal places of business:
BELGIUM NAVAL & ROBOTICS is the name of the Naval Group-ECA Group consortium as a part of the response to the Belgian-Dutch consultation for the replacement and initial support of their mine warfare capability
Naval Group is the European leader in naval defense. A high-tech company, Naval Group uses its exceptional know-how, unique industrial resources and ability to establish innovative strategic partnerships to meet its clients’ requirements. The Group designs, produces and maintains submarines and surface vessels. It also provides services for naval shipyards and bases. Always at the forefront of innovation, in recent years the company has led various developments regarding drones, their integration and their supervision on vessels. Committed to corporate social responsibility challenges, Naval Group is a member of the United Nations Global Compact. In 2017, the Group generated revenue of €3.7 billion and had 13,429 employees
ECA Group ECA Group is an expert in naval drones and unmanned systems and one of the global leaders in this sector for the last 50 years. Moreover, the beginnings of ECA Group in naval robotics took place alongside Naval Group: ECA Group had been tasked with creating a free submarine model at the end of the 60s, which was implemented by Naval Group in St-Tropez. Following that, Naval Group and ECA Group collaborated on developing the first MIDS (Mine Identification and Destruction System) in the world, the PAP guided self-propelled mine clearance ROV. Still used by the French Navy, this robot has been sold in several hundred copies across more than 30 countries. Today, ECA Group masters underwater drones just as well as surface or air drones, enabling it to offer a very wide and complete range of UMISTM drone systems suited to all types and sizes of military vessels.