The Belgian government on Friday, January 26, decided to give the department of defense its green light for the acquisition of six new mine countermeasure vessels.
The order will be placed jointly with the Netherlands Navy which will acquire an identical number of MCM ships.
In addition to mine countermeasures, the two countries are collaborating on the purchase of new frigates, two units for each country.
Belgium will be in charge of MCM acquisition while the Netherlands is to lead the frigate project.
With the government’s approval, the Belgian Navy will spend 1.1 billion euros on the entire MCM project which will include a range of unmanned systems including unmanned surface, aerial and underwater vehicles alongside towed sonars and mine identification and neutralization ROVs.
According to the Belgian-Dutch Next Generation concept, these detection tools must be able to work separately from their launch platform in the future in order to be able to act faster, more efficiently and, above all, more safely.
The new vessels will replace current Tripartite-class minehunters and the command and support ship BNS Godetia.
In addition to joint procurement of mine countermeasure vessels and frigates Belgium, in co-operation with the Netherlands, is to lead a Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence (PESCO) project on maritime semi-autonomous systems for mine countermeasures.
The EU project will aim to deliver a mix of (semi-) autonomous underwater, surface and aerial technologies for the protection of maritime vessels, harbors and offshore installations.