What is the French Navy's new Future Mine Countermeasures System?

The French Navy will soon receive the first elements of the SLAM-F program for the Anti-Mine Fighting System of the Future, intended to replace the Eridan class minehunters in the years to come.

During the Cold War, the Western Navies had an impressive capacity to fight against naval mines, marked in particular by the prolific Tripartite Mine Hunter program which enabled France, Belgium and the Netherlands to equip themselves with 35 particularly high-performance high-tech ships that entered service between 1981 and 1990.

In 2010, as part of the Lancaster House Accords, France and Britain committed to jointly design the Maritime Mine Counter Measures, or MMCM, program to develop new underwater mine countermeasures capabilities in horizon 2030.

In France, this program was designated by the acronym (note, there will be many…) SLAM-F, for Future Mine Control System, and divided into 3 stages: a design and prototype stage from 2015 to 2022, an initial operational capability stage from 2022 to 2025, then a ramp-up stage until 2028, or even 2030.

It is precisely the end of this first stage started in 2015 that has just marked the announced delivery of the first prototype of the SLAM-F developed by Thales to the Directorate General of Armaments in Brest, or rather the Mine Control Module, or MLCM, which had been qualified in June 2020, and which has undergone an intensive test campaign since that date. This module consists of an autonomous surface ship, itself putting into service a towed sonar, autonomous underwater drones and a remotely operated robot to detect and then neutralize naval mines.

the Future Mine Countermeasures System will replace the Eridan-class minehunters
The Eridan class Tripartite mine hunters today form the backbone of the French Navy's mine warfare capability.

The MLCMs, as well as the drones they will implement, will be controlled by encrypted link, either from one of the future Mine Warfare Ships, or BGDMs, the first unit of which is intended to replace the Tripartite minehunters still in service, will see its construction begin in 2024, either directly by a command post of the French Navy based on land per satellite season.

Indeed, the MLCM and all its panoply of drones, can be transported by air, in particular by A-400M aircraft, this allowing a very rapid deployment of anti-mine means for the French armies, and this, everywhere on the planet. , with exceptionally short notice.

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