ECA Group Unveils its New Generation Mid-Size AUV A18-M for Underwater Mine Warfare

On 16th February ECA Group presented its latest mid-size AUV A18-M dedicated to mine counter measures. With its compactness and its unequaled high-quality imagery this new generation underwater drone becomes the reference in the category of autonomous underwater vehicles dedicated to mine hunting.  A live demonstration in Toulon area has been conducted in order to show some of the amazing performances of this new maritime drone that is completing ECA Group’s AUV family.

AUV A18-M: Compact, Modular, Connected and Enduring

A18-M is the new generation of autonomous underwater vehicle developed by ECA Group for efficient mine detection and classification in all water depths up to 300m. Like the A9-M and A27-M, the AUV A18-M is specifically designed to operate in the close vicinity of the smartest mines without triggering them.

More compact than previous generation of MCM AUV, A18-M is easy to deploy even from small naval platforms such as new generation of Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV). Thanks to its high stability, and the fact that it is less affected by waves than a surface ship or a towed system, a very high image quality is obtained.

In addition, the AUV A18-M can also adapt its operating depth to the environmental conditions, avoiding blind zones due to sound speed stratification.

Advanced embedded processing allows to process in real time the sonar image raw data and extract a list of contacts which are relayed back to the command center using an advanced communication network, with an unmanned surface vessel (USV) or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) acting as gateway. These contacts are then reviewed by sonar operators onboard a mothership or onshore, in order to launch identification and disposal.

An Unequaled Performance Gains with a Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) Onboard A18-M

More generally, the AUV is able also to detect any kind of hazard such as improvised explosive devices (IED), pollutants, as well as to provide very accurate maps of the seabed which allow the environment to be assessed with high fidelity.

The AUV A18-M integrates the Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) and has very high area coverage rate, of the order of 2km2/hr which represents between 5 and 10 times more than  that of a conventional side-looking sonar on an AUV. This optimal configuration enables to cover very large areas - of the order 20-40km2 (depending on transit distance)in a fraction of the time of legacy assets, with far superior image quality, and with reduced risk to personnel.