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Belgium chooses French consortium Naval Group and ECA Robotics for its mine hunters


The Belgian government has made a decision for the replacement of the Navy’s mine hunters. Didier Reynders, Minister of Defense, announced that the Council of Ministers had endorsed the choice of the French consortium formed by Naval Group & ECA Robotics for the replacement of its mine hunters (six for Belgium, six for The Netherlands).


Belgium chooses French consortium Naval Group and ECA Robotics for its mine hunters resized The French consortium formed by Naval Group & ECA Robotics has won the tender for the replacement of mine hunters in the Belgian and Dutch navies (six for Belgium, six for The Netherlands) (Picture source: Naval Group)


The purchase price is 2.6 billion euros, of which half (1.115 billion) is borne by Belgium. Compared to the initial estimate, as in the F-35 purchase file, a saving is made, of the order of 200 million euros this time, which will make it possible to invest in European projects related to maritime capacity.

The two French companies Naval Group & ECA-Robotics had joined forces to win this market. This consortium has won against two other bidders, the Dutch group Damen Schelde, associated with the company Imtech België and a consortium called Sea Naval Solutions, bringing together the Thales shipyards, including Thales Belgium, STX France, Socarenam and the Antwerp firm Engine Deck Repair (EDR).

The winning consortium promised the creation of 4 billion euros of turnover and 7,000 jobs in Belgium over 20 years. Economic returns are 50% in Flanders, 35% in Wallonia and 15% in Brussels. For this purpose, 39 partnerships with Belgian companies have already been signed.

In addition to the creation of an industrial center of excellence in the field of the fight against naval mines, a drone production plant (1,550 drones including 1,300 submarine mine destruction drones) will be established in Zeebruges. The maintenance will be 100% Belgian. The contract for the Belgian part is estimated at 1.1 billion euros. "Future capacity will use unmanned systems on the surface, above water level and under water to detect and neutralize mines. Thanks to this new method of work, the mothership and its crew will be able to stay out of the minefield because only drones will be active there”, the statement explains.

The Belgian Navy is implementing an innovative concept in this Mine Countermeasures (MCM) vessels. It intends to remain a pioneer and an internationally recognized expert in the fight against mines. These mine hunters will measure more than 80 meters long and will be able to accommodate up to 63 crew members. They will be larger than those currently possessed by the Marine Component.

The dossier has been delayed for three months, particularly because of its complexity, Minister Didier Reynders explained in committee this week. The government, however, was determined to make a decision before the end of the legislature, thus closing the major military investment cases.

The file was made jointly with the Netherlands, which is responsible for the frigates. If the European tender was managed by Belgium, representatives of the Dutch Defense were present on the bid evaluation team. Delivery of the first mine hunter is expected from the end of 2023. From 2025, ships will then be delivered alternately to The Netherlands and Belgium. The last delivery is scheduled for 2030.