The French Naval Group has inaugurated, in Brussels, two collaborative research laboratories intended to maintain Belgium’s excellence in the fight against sea mines.
The Belgian company Naval Group Belgium, a 100% subsidiary of the French Naval Group, inaugurated, Thursday in Brussels, two collaborative research laboratories intended to maintain Belgium’s internationally recognized excellence in the fight against marine mines. This is’a spin-off from the purchase, in 2019, of twelve new generation ships for the benefit of the Belgian and Dutch naviesfor an amount of at least 2.2 billion euros.
The project provides for six ships for each of the navies, with the delivery of a first building, the future M940 Oostende, expected in 2024.
These two “catalysts” – baptized MCM (for, in jargon, “Mine Counter Measures”) Lab and Cyber Lab, dedicated to cybersecurity – bring together Belgian and European institutional, industrial and academic partners in order to develop the innovations of tomorrow in the field of mine action and cybersecurity.
The concept adopted by Belgian Defense is innovative. The rMCM program (for “Replacement of Mine Countermeasures Capability”) uses a unmanned mission system, composed of a hundred surface drones, submarines and aircraft to detect and destroy mines from a safe distance. Belgium also signed the contract on behalf of the Netherlands. The project calls for six ships for each of the navies, with the delivery of a first building, the future M940 Oostende, expected in 2024.
Essential security interests
Located in the center of Brusselssquare de Meeûs, the two “Labs” were inaugurated by the Minister of Defense, Ludivine Dedonder, and by the Director of Naval Group programs, Olivier de la Bourdonnaye.
“The inauguration of the MCM Lab and the Cyber Lab illustrates another facet of our ambition to establish our presence in Belgium over the long term.”
“The inauguration of the MCM Lab and the Cyber Lab illustrates another facet of our ambition to establish our presence in Belgium over the long term, in order, in particular, to respond to the essential security interests (IES) of Belgium”invoked by the government during military purchases to claim benefits for Belgian industry, said Mr. de la Bourdonnaye.
“The partners (institutional, such as Defense and the Belgian Navy), industrialists and academics federated around the two Labs work together to develop new strategic capabilities to serve Belgian sovereignty and together prepare the future of mine countermeasures and cybersecurity applied to maritime and naval domains”he added.
These two laboratories “give Belgium additional resources to stay at the forefront (of the fight against mines) and to evolve”, specified the director of programs of Naval Group to the Belga agency.
The MCM Lab is one of the key components of the industrial cooperation plan associated with the Belgian-Dutch program (MCM), awarded in 2019 to Belgium Naval & Robotics, the consortium made up of Naval Group and ECA Robotics. One of the main objectives of the MCM Lab is to strengthen the entire Belgian ecosystem, but also the European mine action ecosystem. Bringing together various industrialists and academics federated around Naval Group Belgiumthe ambition of the MCM Lab is to become the European reference center for research and development in the field of mine action.
The MCM Lab brings together Naval Group, Naval Group Belgium, ECA Robotics, ECA Robotics Belgium, ABC (Anglo Belgian Corporation), DotOcean, Space Applications Services, the University of Ghent, the Free University of Brussels, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ ), the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences (IRSN) and the Royal Military School (ERM or, in English RMA).
The first projects carried out jointly, and presented on Thursday, concern in particular the fields of naval cybersecurity, systems for missions and the conduct of mine-fighting operations, robotics, artificial intelligence and even acoustic discretion.
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Naval Group sets up two research laboratories in Brussels
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