INSPECTOR 120 – ECA Group and MAURIC release a new USV

October 2, 2018 – ECA Group releases a new USV INSPECTOR 120, as a part of its range of robotic and autonomous systems for naval applications, including mine counter measures.

ECA Group has been designing and delivering unmanned surface vehicles (USV) for 15 years. After supplying INSPECTOR Mk1 to the DGA in 2008, ECA Group has developed and supplied to several navies with its unmanned surface vehicle INSPECTOR 90.

Benefitting from a standardized and sea proven USV

This USV is 9 meters long and is able to carry Mine Identification and Destruction Systems (MIDS) and to automatically deploy these underwater robots for identification (SEASCAN) and neutralization (K-STER C) of sea mines. The INSPECTOR 90 can also carry two sonars, one on its front arm for very shallow operations and a TOWSCA towed sonar for underwater mine detection. The USV INSPECTOR 90 is therefore a USV that can perform all underwater mine clearance missions from mine detection to its destruction. This USV can also be used as a radio relay between other drones (AUV, UAV) and the mothership for the transmission of remote commands and sonar or video data.

It was successfully demonstrated in Belgium in September 2017 as part of a Belgian-Dutch acquisition program for 12 mine hunters equipped with unmanned systems for which a call for tender is currently open.

More performant with increased payload capacity

The new generation of minehunters (70 to 90m) carries larger underwater drones for greater endurance and better performances. Today, with the evolution of operational constraints and increasing recommendations regarding safety of crew, customers want more and more to deploy their underwater robots from an USV. To address this need, ECA Group, helped by its subsidiary BE MAURIC specialized for 50 years in naval architecture, has designed the INSPECTOR 120 a new 12 m long USV.

The INSPECTOR 120 includes all the features that made the INSPECTOR 90 a success with a greater endurance, a higher payload capacity and superior nautical performances. It has been designed to automatically deploy the most performant ECA Group unmanned systems (UUVs) such as AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) A18-M, towed sonars T18-M, MIDS, etc. The hull of the INSPECTOR 120 is a best compromise for sea keeping, both in transit and at very low speed for launching and recovery of UUVs. Thanks to dedicated Launch And Recovery Systems (LARS) also proposed by ECA Group, INSPECTOR 120 can be deployed from any vessel of length about 50m and beyond.

To be integrated on MCM warships and UMISTM compatible

The design of this USV is a result of a study on a comprehensive range of ship platforms capable to carry different configurations of ECA Group’s UMISTM systems for MCM missions. Thus, BE MAURIC recently introduced the design of its new family of drone-carrying vessels, each of these naval platforms being suitable for carrying a typical UMISTM system configuration.

The launching and recovery of USVs by sea 4 or 5 is an important criterion for the MCM vessel’s capacity evaluation. The USVs of the INSPECTOR range are therefore particularly studied for the best possible integration on minehunter and BE MAURIC is working on the optimization of this integration as well as on automated recovery of USVs. The results of this work will also be presented during EURONAVAL exhibition from 23rd -26th October.

Customize your USV: modularity for sensors adaptation and performance needs

The contribution of BE MAURIC to ECA Group’s development is increasing, ranging from integration of unmanned systems onboard ships to the USVs design itself. This last point is crucial because the USVs, like any other naval platforms, shall be adapted to specific mission requirements. Even if it is an off the shelf product, the INSPECTOR 120 can also be adapted according to the specific needs in terms of sensors, or customer’s performance requirements.