French ECA Group presents mid-sized mine warfare AUV ‘A18-M’

French autonomous systems developer ECA Group recently unveiled and demonstrated its new mid-sized mine counter measure autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), the A18-M.

A live demonstration of the company’s new AUV family member took place off Toulon, Southern France, on February 16.

According to the company, the AUV is capable of mine detection and classification in water depths up to 300m. Like the A9-M and A27-M, the AUV A18-M is specifically designed to operate in the close vicinity of the “smart mines” without triggering them.

“This mid-size AUV is the top trade-off between, size, weight and long endurance. Its payload capacity makes it able to host high performance sonar, such as synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) providing unprecedented detection and classification performances.” says Léonie Delacou, AUV product manager at ECA Group.

More compact than previous generation of MCM AUV, A18-M is also capable of deploying from small naval platforms such as unmanned surface vehicles (USV).

The A18-M integrates synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) and has an area coverage rate of about two square kilometers per hour.

A18-M uses embedded processing to relay real time sonar image data back to the command center using a communication network, with an unmanned surface vessel (USV) or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) acting as gateway. These contacts are then reviewed by sonar operators onboard a mothership or onshore, in order to launch identification and disposal.

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