Taking advantage of ASV’s presence at MAST Asia 2017, MONS spoke to Vince Dobbin, Sales and Marketing Director of ASV Unmanned Marine Systems, about their contribution to the Anglo-French MMCM programme (a cooperation agreement between France and the United Kingdom that started in 2010 and which aims to develop a prototype autonomous system for detection and neutralisation of sea mines and underwater improvised explosive devices (UWIEDs)).
“We first began to work on our unmanned surface vehicle (USV) through a partnership with Thales back in 2012,” says Mr Dobbin, “which we then delivered to Thales in 2013, the same year we presented it at Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI).”
The Halcyon, as this first USV delivered to Thales is known, now forms the basis of the Halcyon mark II, the USV that will contribute to offer a low risk, robust and reliable solution for the UK/French MMCM requirement.
The USV functions in two modes. Initially, it is used as towed sonar to detect mines; it can then be modified as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to place a charge and detonate the mine. According to Mr Dobbin: “The switch from USV to ROV is facilitated by the launch and recovery system, which allows operators to change the payload in less than two hours.”
The Halcyon also includes advanced autonomy and collision avoidance: it has been programmed to understand collision avoidance according to the rules of the sea.
The design phase of this programme lasted until the end of 2016: “We are now into the building phase of the programme, stage 2, and the two vehicles are scheduled for delivery I June and August 2018,” Mr Dobbin concludes. Aside from the MMCM programme, ASV has also sold USVs to the Royal Singapore Navy and the Republic of Korea Navy.
Dr. Alix Valenti