The recent Euronaval exhibition held this October in Paris saw France and the UK officially launch the Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) project.
The project is being managed under the auspices of OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Cooperation en Matiere d’Armement/Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation) which manages European bilateral and multilateral defence procurement initiatives. The programme has commenced with an award of a $166 million contract to a French and British consortium including BAE Systems, the ECA Group and Thales, for the development of the MMCM.
According to Thales over 300,000 mines remain at the bottom of the sea, company representatives announced during the launch, of which a mere 30 percent have been identified. The MMCM project includes a suite of new sonar plus unmanned surface and underwater vehicles which will equip the Royal Navy and Marine Nationale (French Navy).
During the launch, Laurent Collet-Billon, the director general of the French defence procurement agency disclosed that: “in 2019 each country will receive one MMCM (ensemble) in order to undertake a common trial.” He also added that there has been significant interest from allied forces in acquiring the MMCM in the future, although for confidentiality reasons he was unable to disclose which forces.