20 Februari 2016
An unmanned mine countermeasures (MCM) combo was one highlight of the ST Electronics display at the Singapore Air Show. (photo : Shephard)
Two scale models illustrated the MCM teaming arrangement that would see a Venus unmanned surface vessel (USV) with a towed sonar array system from Thales used to detect and classify mines. This variant is known as an MCM USV with TSAS.
Once a threat is located, another USV with expendable mine disposal system (MCM USV with EMDS) would be launched to neutralise the threat. ST Electronics is using an EMDS from ECA
ST Electronics has done development work on a 9m-long composite hull, but it is now utilising two 9m hulls and one 16m hull as prototypes. ST Electronics said the Venus USV can be manufactured with 9.5m (5.5t displacement), 11.5m (11t) or 16.5m (26t) hull sizes according to customer requirements.
The company commenced research and development in 2008, and it transited to full-scale development at the start of 2012. An ST Electronics spokesman indicated development of the MCM system could be completed by 2017.
The Singaporean company has tested booth propellers and waterjets on its USV, meaning customers can choose either propulsion system. However, waterjets are better suited to the EMDS platform because of the threat of propellers cutting cables.
Both MCM USVs are designed to operate without a mothership. In this case they would be controlled from a portable, land-based control station, which of course would limit the vessels’ use to coastal environs.
However, the employment of a containerised control station means it could also be loaded aboard a larger vessel for at-sea operations if required.
Another USV mission platform that has been developed is an anti-submarine warfare type with a dipping sonar. This has already undergone technology tests.
A further variant is a force protection USV fitted with a remote-controlled weapon station mounting a 12.7mm machine gun. Its sensors also can be used for maritime surveillance. An ST Electronics brochure also lists precision fire and electronic warfare variants as possibilities for the Venus.
An important component in the USV is its collision detection, collision avoidance system.
ST Electronics has advanced this even further to create the Maritime Collision Detection Advisory System (MCDAS) for larger manned vessels. With approximately 80% of accidents at sea caused by human error, MCDAS can help operators maintain situational awareness by integrating a ship’s radar, electronic chart system, cameras and other systems.