What is the French Navy's new Future Mine Control System?

During the Cold War, the Western Marines had an impressive capacity to fight against naval mines, marked in particular by the prolific Tripartite Mine Hunter program which enabled France, Belgium and the Netherlands to equip themselves with 35 particularly efficient high-tech ships which entered service between 1981 and 1990. In 2010, in Within the framework of the Lancaster House agreements, France and Great Britain committed to jointly design the Maritime Mine Counter Measures program, or MMCM, in order to develop new capabilities to fight against submarine mines by 2030. In France, this program was designated by the acronym (be careful there will be a lot of them ..) SLAM-F, for Future Mine Control System, and divided into 3 stages: a design and prototype stage from 2015 to 2022, an initial operational capacity stage from 2022 to 2025, then a ramp-up stage until 2028 or even 2030.

It is precisely the end of this first stage started in 2015 that has just marked the announced delivery of the first prototype of the SLAM-F developed by Thales to the Directorate General of Armaments in Brest, or rather of the Module de Lutte Contre les Mines, or MLCM, which had been qualified in June 2020, and which has undergone an intensive test campaign since that date. This module consists of an autonomous surface vessel, itself putting into service a towed sonar, autonomous underwater drones and a remotely operated robot to detect and then neutralize naval mines. The MLCMs, as well as the drones they will use, will be controlled by encrypted link, either from one of the future Mine War Buildings, or BGDM, whose first unit intended to replace the tripartite mine hunters again. in service, will see its construction started in 2024, either directly by a command post of the National Navy based on land by satellite season. Indeed, the MLCM and all its panoply of drones, will be able to be transported by air, in particular by plane A-400M, this allowing a very fast deployment of the anti-mine means for the French armies, and this everywhere on the planet, with exceptionally short notice.

The Eridan class Tripartite mine hunters today form the backbone of the French Navy's mine warfare capability.

During the current Military Programming Law ending in 2025, the French Navy was to receive two Mine War Vessels, as well as 4 MLCMs, with the final objective of having at least 4 of these ships, and 8 MLCM in 2030, while 5 tripartite Eridan-class Mine Hunters would remain in service. But it is likely that this number will be revised upwards during the next Programming law, the French Navy estimating its need at 6 buildings and 10 to 12 MLCMs by 2030 in order to meet growing operational needs, i.e. a fleet equivalent to that of the Belgian and Dutch navies, which have entrusted to Naval Group and ECA the design and manufacture of 12 mine warfare vessels, 6 per navy, on an operational and technological model similar to that of the SLAM-F program.


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