DSEi 2013 Highlight – Mine Countermeasures at Sea and on Land

We know that mines have a disproportionate effect to their cost, whether conventional mines or improvised they remain and will remain a significant barrier to operations in either environment.

At DSEI were a few systems on display;

Land

Pearson Engineering showed the latest version of the Pearson Engineering Route Opening and Clearing Capability (PEROCC)

This was previously unveiled at AUSA 2012 but shown for the first time at DSEi. The design differs significantly from the previous version that was developed as part of the Mine Detection, neutralisation and Route Marking System (MINDER) technology demonstrator programme that started in April 1997.

Pearson PEROCC
Pearson PEROCC

MINDER went nowhere and ultimately the British Army assembled the Talisman capability set using a range of equipment.

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/07/ieds-mines-route-clearance-and-talisman/”]

Where PEROCC shines is that it is a single vehicle solution that could replace a number of vehicles in the Talisman system, with obvious personnel and cost reductions.

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Sea

In the wet stuff the French Système de Lutte Anti-Mines – Futur (SLAM-F) and the UK Mines Countermeasures, Hydrographic, and Patrol Capability (MHPC) is driving a number of innovative approaches.

On display were two, the Thales HALCYON and Atlas Elektronik ARCIMS.

Thales HALCYON

Autonomous Surface Vehicles, a UK company specialising in unmanned surface craft, have just announced a contract win to develop a long endurance autonomous research craft. The Royal Navy also buys surface targets from ASV and their C-Sweep may well form part of a future unmanned mine countermeasures capability.

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.asvglobal.com/military-security”]

Thales partnered with ASV last year, the C Sweep being called HALCYON, it being shown for the first time a few months ago.

IMG_0587

Thales Halcyon ASV @ Excel 12-09-13

The C-Sweep is modified to be able to launch and recover a Saab Seaeye ROV, recent tests have demonstrated this ability with the new multi shot disposal system based on the Seaeye Falcon

Atlas Elektronik ARCIMS

Another contender for MHPC is Atlas Elektronik showing their ARCIMS or Atlas Remote Combined Influence Minesweeping System

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.atlas-elektronik.com/what-we-do/mine-warfare-systems/arcims-the-atlas-remote-combined-influence-minesweeping-system/”] 

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Mike W
September 15, 2013 2:45 pm

@Think Defence and others

I would agree with TD’s statement:

“Where PEROCC shines is that it is a single vehicle solution that could replace a number of vehicles in the Talisman system, with obvious personnel and cost reductions.”

and while I think that it is, in many respects, a great-looking piece of kit, I have one or two questions:

a) I don’t know whether any of you know much more than I do (not difficult!) about such things but doesn’t the driver/operator seem to be sitting awfully low? I know the vehicle has a v-shaped hull and no doubt other protective measures but I bet he is lower than in a Mastiff or Buffalo, for example. It may be just the angle of the shots.

b) The old MINDER vehicle had a blade at the front which would have provided some degree of blast protection. Just rollers on this model. Still, Pearson are good and would no doubt have thought the whole thing through.

Any comments?

Observer
Observer
September 15, 2013 3:57 pm

Only one slight nit Mike. Mine plows and dozer blades don’t really clear mines, they just push them to one side, the mines will still be active. Mine rollers on the other hand, detonates the mine and renders it harmless.

So you could probably say one system is to breach a narrow lane through a minefield for a fast assault, the mines are pushed to the side and still very, very live while the other system is to clean up the place for daily usage.

As for driver protection, well, one thing to note is where the mines will be detonating. Unless it is a command detonated IED, pressure mines will detonate at the wheels, so even if the driver is lower, he may actually be safer as the wheels are offset away from the vehicle body. In fact, most 8×8 V-hulls are not really true V-hulls, the armour is only sloped just above the wheels as that is where the blast is most likely to be, the base of the hull is still flat.

Bob
Bob
September 15, 2013 4:09 pm

PEROCC, is awesome- the near ideal mine/IED clearance system just like RANGER was the near perfect MRAP. And just like RANGER it is a decade too late- the current systems are too embedded in service and with wind-down now under-way there will be little interest in anyone pursuing such a bespoke capability. Unfortunately this looks like a poor investment that will disappear rather like its MINDER forebear.

The sea stuff is very interesting though and suggests very strongly that the UK future approach to MCM will involve optionally crewed composite vehicles, themselves deploying multi-shot UUVs, launched from the mission bay of the Type 26. At first glance that seems very logical.

Mike W
September 15, 2013 4:33 pm

@Think Defence and Observer

Both your sets of comments taken on board.

@TD

“I suppose it would all come down to testing with any mods being applied as part of that process.”

Yes, I suppose that would be the common sense view to take.

@Observer

Yes, I knew the difference between breaching for fast assault and clearance for daily use. My point concerning the blade was the extra degree of protection it might, or might not, have provided.

“Unless it is a command detonated IED, pressure mines will detonate at the wheels, so even if the driver is lower, he may actually be safer as the wheels are offset away from the vehicle body. In fact, most 8×8 V-hulls are not really true V-hulls, the armour is only sloped just above the wheels as that is where the blast is most likely to be, the base of the hull is still flat.”

Well, I never knew most of that before. Interesting. Thanks for the info. I was thinking in my blanket-thought way: “V-shaped hull – good; flat hull bad”.

Bob
Bob
September 15, 2013 4:44 pm

Mike W/Others

The V-Hull is something of a blunt instrument, it is very effective at protecting against mine-blasts but it pushes up the vehicles CoG thus decreasing its overall ability to cover terrain and raises the vehicles profile which makes it easier to see and hit with “conventional” weapons. Basically, it sucks from every perspective except protecting against mine blasts.

The challenge now is to integrate MRAP levels of mine protection into “conventional” armoured vehicles without undermining their mobility. This is what the Scout programme is trying to do (and one of the reasons it is so important) as well as GCV is and double-V-Hull Stryker in the US (I understand that MPC has similar requirements)- it is hard but possible and most importantly very desirable.

Mike W
September 15, 2013 4:49 pm

@Bob

“And just like RANGER it is a decade too late- the current systems are too embedded in service and with wind-down now under-way there will be little interest in anyone pursuing such a bespoke capability.”

A pity. Agree with you about Ranger. I did hear that the firm concerned (Universal Engineering) were now going to concentrate their efforts with Ranger on FRES UV (as a dual-purpose vehicle? I don’t know). Any chance, do you think?

x
x
September 15, 2013 4:50 pm

To make that Atlas system worthwhile you would have to carry 4 systems. Those boats aren’t big, but they aren’t small either. They are approximately LCVP size; look at the davits on Albion or Bulwark. How you would squeeze such onto an OPV design that does droggy work too I don’t know. Yes you could fly them into theatre in a C17. But really you need a seabased option too. We shall see. I forecast that we will see two or perhaps three “carriers” for such a system to replace the current MCMV flotilla. OK if they come with ocean going capability and a flight deck.

WW
WW
September 15, 2013 5:30 pm

@X
If I recall correctly from the reporting on the French white paper and the subsequent Loi de Programmation, the long term plans for their navy call for 4 MCM motherships with a load of unmanned boats and “vehicles”. That must be similar to your “carrier”.
If the french have four of these, the UK should have six. Plus two optimised for survey to replace the Echo’s. Makes a total of 8, exactly the number of units mentioned in the MHPC rumours, with a P-variant tp come later. Probably to quite a different design.

Mike W
September 15, 2013 5:46 pm

@Bob

Many thanks for you detailed reply concerning V-shaped hulls, etc. Always enjoy reading your knowledgeable comments.

x
x
September 15, 2013 6:01 pm

@ WW

OK. :)

But I don’t see how or why you would want to make a vessel do both taks. I would expect a MCMV mothership to look something like this…….

http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4035/4408722466_4787542a8d_o.jpg

While there are good reasons why (two of our) hydrographic vessels look like this………..

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2481/5842085576_7c5e684958_o.jpg

And yes 6 to carry 4 would be good; but I can’t see us getting that many. TBH I still think there is a roll for a proper MCMV vessel.

John Hartley
John Hartley
September 15, 2013 7:49 pm

I think I read somewhere that a U shaped hull is nearly as good against mines as a V, but the U is easier to package.

dave haine
dave haine
September 15, 2013 8:38 pm

@x- interesting! Something like a oil-rig support vessel, acting as a ‘sea-base’ to a group of MCM launches…would you include a MCMV, or two, in that group? What about helicopter borne MCM? Could be a capable little group in any case. Very useful for geo-political pressure.

I can see your argument about there not being a natural synergy between MCM and hydrography. But could a properly fitted patrol ship also carry out the hydrography role too? Which then makes me ask should hydrography be part of a patrol vessels tasking anyway?

Or do we have multi function ‘support’ groups that can fulfill all these roles, by using a ‘Sea base’ ship with a group of launches and larger vessels.

dave haine
dave haine
September 15, 2013 8:38 pm

@x- interesting! Something like a oil-rig support vessel, acting as a ‘sea-base’ to a group of MCM launches…would you include a MCMV, or two, in that group? What about helicopter borne MCM? Could be a capable little group in any case. Very useful for geo-political pressure.

I can see your argument about there not being a natural synergy between MCM and hydrography. But could a properly fitted patrol ship also carry out the hydrography role too? Which then makes me ask should hydrography be part of a patrol vessels tasking anyway?

Or do we have multi function ‘support’ groups that can fulfill all these roles, by using a ‘Sea base’ ship with a group of launches and larger vessels.

SR
SR
September 15, 2013 8:44 pm

I personally doubt very much that the MHPC programme wiill deliver a new shiny fleet of hulls. At the present moment it looks more like the Hunt class will be extended in service for may years yet – and why not? The hulls will never rust, they are being re-engined with new, modern diesels and already provide you with a capable platform. The Sandowns are too specialised and I think they will go to be replaced by the first of the MHPCs. I think we will see Hunts alongside modified Rivers (or similar) deploying a wide range of capabilities to defeat the mine threat, and I would be very surprised if ECHO/ENTERPRISE and SCOTT were rolled into the bargain as well because they are just too useful as large survey ships to be used as close-in sweepers. I also absolutely disagree with any idea that sees an MCM system being deployed from a T26. T26 is NOT the Littoral Combat Ship. There are too few to go minehunting, and it’s a waste of resource.

Bob
Bob
September 16, 2013 10:27 am

Mike W,

As far as I am concerned RANGER has not chance, don’t get me wrong- it is an awesome vehicles and very well thought out but it’s just too tall to be procured as part of a normal programme.

SR,

Type 26 will not go mine hunting (and I never said it would) but it will likely deploy the mine-hunters. It is not a littoral combat ship and nobody ever said it was, if anything it is a German F125 with a classic ASW capability layered over the top.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 16, 2013 3:53 pm

I fear people may be mistaking the PC in MHPC – the key word is craft.

“Patrol Vessels

This vessel type category will include the following patrol vessel types:

Patrol Boat (PBs) – Patrol Boats are smaller than OPVs and larger than PCs, thus filling the range between 100 and 700 tons. A PB is designed for multi-day patrol operations (anti-smuggling, search and rescue, coastal security, etc.) in coastal waters. A PB is often armed with a small to medium caliber gun (typically a 76mm and/or 40mm gun) and machine guns. It may also be fitted for, but not with, surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs).
Patrol Craft (PC) – Patrol craft are small (under 100 tons) and are intended to conduct short patrols (anti-smuggling, search and rescue, harbor security, etc.) in relatively sheltered coastal waters, harbors, or rivers. Patrol craft are lightly armed (usually machine guns) and have limited range.”

http://www.amiinter.com/pagex.php?pg=vesseltypes

I see two possibilities – a dual role MCMV/PB under 700 tons (under 1000 tons at least) with the MCM capabilities modular.

Or

An optionally manned craft under 100 tons – either an unmanned MCM drone or a manned replacement for the P200’s, etc.

If the former it could benefit from a MCS/mother ship as current practice with bays/Echo…

if the latter the “Carrier” could be a number of ships, including the GP Type 26’s perhaps…

either way I don’t see the Navy increasing its number of ships/vessels – in fact it might be the opposite…

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 16, 2013 6:05 pm

No it’s not. It’s Capability!!!!

Realised I got it wrong after I posted – one of those days…

“The Strategic Defence and Security Review of October 2010 stated that the existing Hunt-class and Sandown-class of mine countermeasure vessels will be replaced. The replacement vessels will use a common hull and modular design to support the modern mine countermeasure, hydrography and patrol requirements.[12] In December 2010, an analyst suggested that “Current plans seem to point to a single class of vessel about 100m in length and between 2,000 and 2,500 tonnes displacement. These will deliver on the MCM, survey and patrol requirements using a range of off board systems like USV’s, UAV’s and UUV’s.” It was also said that any programme would seek “to replace the Hunt, Sandown, Echo and River-classes” currently in service.[13] During June 2011, BAE Systems and SeeByte of Edinburgh, Scotland, signed a “Co-operation Agreement to pursue business opportunities associated with the UK’s Mine Counter Measure (MCM), Hydrography and Patrol Capability (MHPC) Programme.”[14] In January 2012 Dstl of the Ministry of Defence announced a programme – in ‘Concept Phase’ – with interests in the development of remote mine countermeasure and hydrography systems such as UAVs, USVs and UUVs. Such systems would offer unique capabilities and deliver elements of a wider MHPC programme.[15][16]”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_of_the_Royal_Navy#Mine_Countermeasures.2C_Hydrography_and_Patrol_Capability_programme