UK MOD orders autonomous minesweepers for Royal Navy

An AEUK 11-metre unmanned surface vessel (Photo: AEUK)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has awarded Atlas Elektronik UK (AEUK) a £25 million (US$34.2 million) contract for the supply of three examples of its Combined Influence Minesweeping (SWEEP) unmanned minesweeping system.

The SWEEP system is designed to detect even the more modern “smart” digital sea mines that target ships and submarines passing overhead. Each system comprises an autonomous surface vessel (ASV) that tows a sensor unit fitted with magnetic, acoustic, and electric technology to identify and neutralise different types of sea mines.

The system is controlled by a portable command centre that can be based at sea or on land. The technology, which has been developed in the UK, can be rapidly deployed by land, sea, and air.

The first system will be delivered by AEUK in late 2022 and will enter operational evaluation before service at a later date.

Once in service, the vessels will be the first ever uncrewed minesweepers in operation with the Royal Navy.

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