Unmanned Underwater Vehicles – Macroeconomic Trends

Unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) research and development efforts under various partnerships have been turned into procurement / manufacturing programs.

Listed below are the key macroeconomic trends impacting the UUV issue, as identified by GlobalData.

Common shared costs of procurement and research and development (R&D)

Shared systems and platform development costs are expected to expand as a trend, as new technologies require considerable investments. Initiating common procurement across countries can reduce procurement and life cycle costs, given limited funding relative to the range of needs.

Defense ministers of 13 NATO allies, for example, signed a declaration of intent to cooperate on the introduction of unmanned maritime systems on October 3, 2018. The countries aimed to create better unmanned maritime vehicles and systems, more flexible and interoperable. France joined this initiative on April 11, 2019.

In addition, the Belgian and Dutch navies will replace their old fleets of tripartite class ships from 2023. The Belgium Naval & Robotics consortium will supply 12 ships and associated equipment to the Belgian and Dutch navies, under the Mine Countermeasures (MCM) program. . The vessels will be equipped with 15 inspectors, 125 unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), 20 A18-M autonomous underwater vehicles, 14 SEASCANs, 42 K-STER C remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and ten UMS Skeldar V-200 UAVs. All of these drones can be operated autonomously from the USV Inspector 125. The drone system also includes unmanned aerial vehicles and influence sweeps.

Similarly, the UK and France have been collaborating to improve their MCM capabilities. OCCAR awarded the Marine Mine Countermeasures (MMCM) contract to Thales in collaboration with BAE Systems and its partners in France (ECA) and the United Kingdom (ASV, Wood & Douglas, Saab) on behalf of the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) in France and the UK MOD defense teams and support organization.

Thales and BAE Systems are committed to providing systems to both the French Navy and the Royal Navy for two years of evaluation testing, as part of the MMCM program. The French and British contractors involved in the MMCM system include ASV for the supply of the surface vehicle, ECA for the supply of unmanned underwater vehicles, Saab for the ROVs and Wood & Douglas for the communications.

Company partnership

Unmanned marine vehicle manufacturing companies partner with other companies on hull, payload, and control systems. The ISTAR division of the Israeli company Elbit Systems and the Italian firm Leonardo, for example, partnered to develop additional torpedo capacity for the unmanned surface vessel Seagull. The Seagull ship is also designed and manufactured by the Dutch companies De Haas Maassluis BV (builder) and Ginton Naval Architects BV (designer). SEA partnered with iXblue to develop an autonomous anti-submarine surveillance system, SeaDrix, for long duration surveillance patrols.

Maritime Tactical Systems (MARTAC) and MSUBS established an alliance on Unmanned Surface and Underwater Vehicles in September 2020, pooling skills in unmanned technologies to enhance their markets and support customers.

Economic risk

Trade war policies have a significant impact on national and world economies, as they are used as a political weapon between countries. These policies fuel a downward spiral of measures and countermeasures among opponents, which are not only limited to economic levers, but can expand to other areas of international relations, resulting in escalation due to misperception. Companies rely on imports such as semiconductors, rare earth minerals, and battery technology used in UUV. The shortage of these materials can paralyze companies and navies and impact the costs of UUVs.

This is an edited excerpt from Unmanned Underwater Vehicles: Thematic Research report prepared by GlobalData Thematic Research.

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