The U.K. Royal Navy said it is conducting tests of a new crewless minehunter, as part of its effort to create autonomous systems.

The device, developed as part of a joint Anglo-French Maritime Mine Counter Measures initiative, is intended to detect the most recent mine threats while decreasing the risk to the lives of people searching for them. It consists of an uncrewed surface vessel, a towed sonar, as well as a mobile operation center and is currently going through intense capability development tests.

Autonomous Minehunter
Autonomous Minehunter Credit: Royal Navy

Demonstrators have been handed over to two of them, and the Royal as well as French Navies The U.K. model was handed to Plymouth in the UK by Thales UK, OCCAR and Defense Equipment and Support, the MOD’s procurement arm.

The Commodore Steve Prest, the Royal Navy’s Deputy Director Acquisition declared, “The future of mine warfare is here: the Royal Navy’s minehunting capability program is real; it’s happening; it’s delivering. We have a lot to learn about this transformational approach to mine warfare, but there is much, much more to come.”

The demonstrator’s users will be equipped to identify and neutralize mines that are miles away, which means that they keep vital sea routes open with less danger to vessels as well as the safety of sailors.

The Royal Navy, which already has three autonomous mine-hunting systems which operate from Faslane under the name of Project Wilton, Harrier, Hebe and Hazard It said that its main objective is to replace the crewed Sandown and Hunt-class ships with autonomous systems that keep sailors away from the minefield as much as is possible.

The demonstrator will go through operational testing alongside other systems provided through the U.K.-France partnership via a PS184 million funding that was negotiated through Whitehall for 2020.

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