Three world-class autonomous minesweeping systems will detect and destroy sea mines on dangerous naval operations for the Royal Navy, thanks to a £25-million contract announced recently.

The Combined Influence Minesweeping (SWEEP) system designed by Atlas Elektronik UK, will be the Royal Navy’s first uncrewed minesweeper.

More than 25 jobs will be supported through the contract to deliver SWEEP at the Dorset-based company, plus 48 more jobs in the supply chain.

It will allow personnel to neutralise mines from a remote and safe distance at sea while on operations worldwide, keeping sailors safe.

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said:

This next-generation autonomous technology will be instrumental to our goal of protecting the safety and security of our personnel, while also reaffirming the UK’s unwavering commitment to improve the safety of international waters.

Using highly innovative technology, SWEEP will detect more modern and smarter digital sea mines, which target ships and submarines passing overhead.

Each SWEEP system comprises an Autonomous Surface Vessel that tows a sensor unit behind it. The unit uses magnetic, acoustic and electric technology to identify and neutralise different types of sea mines. The system is controlled by a Portable Command Centre which can be based at sea or on land.

The technology, which has been developed in the UK, can be rapidly deployed by land, sea and air and will offer increased protection to military and commercial vessels.

DE&S CEO Sir Simon Bollom said:

This cutting-edge SWEEP technology follows hot on the heels of the contract negotiated for equally innovative autonomous minehunters and provides the Royal Navy with the increased capability they need to deal with modern mine threats.

The first system will be delivered in late 2022 and will enter operational evaluation before service at a later date.