In the future, the Bundeswehr will equip its Class 332 minehunting boats with new “SeaCat” underwater reconnaissance drones for maritime mine defense. After the project was previously approved by the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag, the President of the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr (BAAINBw) today signed the framework agreement for the purchase of the market-available drones. From 2024, the project will be financed from the special fund for the Bundeswehr.
The contractual partner, ATLAS Elektronik GmbH, delivers a total of four autonomous underwater reconnaissance drones and ensures their integration on the mine hunting boats. The contract also provides for the adaptation of the existing training and testing facility. As a so-called on-demand service, additional drones can be ordered at short notice if necessary.
Underwater reconnaissance represents an essential component in national and alliance defense. The drones now commissioned enable the presentation of a comprehensive underwater situation picture, which serves as a basis for decision-making at all levels. Using high-resolution sonars (Synthetic Aperture Sonar – SAS), the unarmed drones search the seabed for potentially dangerous objects at depths of up to 300 meters. They have three times the area search performance compared to a Class 332 minehunting boat without the use of drones.
The data collected is processed during the mission so that targeted measures can be initiated as quickly as possible with the sea mine countermeasures forces.
The Bundeswehr expects the first drone at the end of 2024, and at the same time the first minehunting boat is being prepared for integration. The four drones, the adapted training and testing facility in Kiel, spare parts and various container modules should be available to the force by mid-2026.