Defense

ECA Group completes the sea trials of UMISAS Sonar

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ECA GROUP’s UMISAS sonar completed a series of sea trials in the 2nd half of 2020 in preparation for their integration in AUVs and Towed Sonars for the Mine Countermeasures replacement program for the Belgian and Royal Netherlands navies, ECA Group announced.

As part of the program to replace the naval Mine Countermeasures capability of the Belgian and Royal Netherlands navies, which includes the supply of twelve minehunters equipped with unmanned systems (Toolbox), ECA GROUP announces the completion of sea trials of its UMISAS sonar for both the AUVs and Towed Sonars of the rMCM program. The next step is the on-going production of the UMISAS sonars for their integration in the A18-M and T18-M adapted to the rMCM program. This integration will take place between October 2021 and March 2022.

ECA GROUP decided to develop its own range of Synthetic Aperture Sonars in 2014 and launched an internal program. SAS sonars proposed by partners did not fulfill ECA GROUP’s internal requirements:

  • Their weight, size or power consumption would have led to a too big and too heavy AUV whereas ECA GROUP’s MCM AUV was targeting the size of an A18-M medium-size AUV;
  • Impossibility to precisely synchronize the SAS and the inertial navigation of the AUV in order to fully exploit the benefits of a new technique protected by an ECA GROUP patent for both SAS imagery and AUV navigation.

The A18-M AUV and T18-M Towed Sonar have the best performance when fitted with UMISAS sonars. Thus, these drones are exclusively commercialized with UMISAS sonars.

UMISAS: A NEW GENERATION OF SYNTHETIC APERTURE SONARS

ECA GROUP’s research and development in the field of sonars started back in 2014 together with its development of new generation Autonomous Underwater Vehicles in the A18 range. Driven by operational needs of Navies requesting high performance and more compact unmanned solutions for mine detection missions, ECA GROUP brings on the market their own sonar technology to be fitted on its naval drones and fully integrated into its unmanned systems.

The UMISAS sonars are interferometric synthetic aperture sonars (InSAS) used for mine detection missions as part of Mine Countermeasures operations at sea. The UMISAS sonars aim to obtain a spatial resolution of about 3 cm x 3 cm to optimally classify small and irregularly shaped objects on the seabed.

The positioning of the platform required to form the synthetic antennas is an integral part of the UMISAS processing chain. UMISAS directly uses the data from the A18-M or T18-M navigation grade inertial unit to perform SAS processing, thus eliminating the use of low cost navigation sensors used by some commercial SAS systems on the market which perform only the short term navigation required to produce focused SAS imagery, but do not allow for geo-referencing of the SAS images or improved positioning of the AUV by exploiting the SAS and, above all, are much less reliable.

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