The maritime defence business has unveiled a new factory to support the production of mine countermeasure platforms.
ECA Group has unveiled a new facility in Ostend, Belgium – designed to support the production and sustainment of the company’s Mine Warfare Drones for the Belgian and Dutch navies.
The facility — launched at a ceremony attended by Hilde Crevits, Deputy Prime Minister of the Flemish government and Admiral Michel Hofman, Chief of Defence — is also expected to support other prospective contracts.
Core activities include the lean manufacturing of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) and unmanned surface vehicles (USV), efficient supply chain management, and demonstrations to customers.
ECA Group is scheduled to commence production of the drones in September, with the first tranche to be delivered to the Belgian Navy in 2024.
“These new premises illustrate both ECA Group’s strong desire to establish itself in Belgium over the long term and the unfailing support given to this project by the federal and regional authorities,” Dominique Giannoni, CEO of ECA Group said.
“They represent a substantial investment of more than €10 million, which would not have been possible without the significant support of the Flemish Region.”
In addition to its work in Europe, ECA Group is bidding for the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) SEA 1905 Tranche 1 – Maritime Mine Countermeasures Survey program, which is seeking an autonomous solution to be deployed from the Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs).
The company has partnered with a number of local firms, including Western Australia-based Total Marine Technology (TMT).
The ECA-led team is competing against Saab Australia, which recently launched its bid alongside Leidos Australia, SeeByte and Sonartech Atlas.
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In May, ECA Group CEO Dominique Giannoni told Defence Connect the company would leverage its heritage in the mine countermeasure space, which he said extends across three generations of capability solutions.
He noted the company’s work with the RAN over several decades and its recent selection to support major projects in Europe.
“This is our commitment to Australia, to bring a sea-proven, fully-integrated system we’ve developed for the Belgian and Dutch navies and to work with Australian industry and academia to ‘evergreen’ and constantly evolve the system,” he said.