LONDON ― The British Royal Navy is getting ready to take delivery of an unmanned mine-hunting system that follows the trend of getting ships out of the minefield.

The ATLAS Remote Combined Influence Minesweeping System is slated for delivery in December, according to Atlas representatives at the Defence and Security Equipment International conference in London, England. ARCIMS can operate unmanned and is programmed to follow minesweeping patterns, avoid other vessels and hazards, and adjust and return to its pattern.

As it stands, the Royal Navy is looking to acquire four of the ARCIMS boats, but there is room for growth as the service plans to accelerate its Mine countermeasures and Hydrographic Capability program, First Sealord Adm. Philip Jones said Sept. 12.

“Today I can announce the Royal Navy’s aim to accelerate the incremental delivery of our future Mine countermeasures and Hydrographic Capability program,” Jones said. “Our intention is to deliver an unmanned capability for routine mine countermeasure tasks in U.K. waters in two years’ time.”

Jones did not say what platforms or systems would be accelerated in the MHC program.

ARCIMS was demonstrated to the Royal Navy last year towing Northrop Grumman’s AQS-24B Minehunting System, which Atlas reps say has been reliable and integrates well with unmanned surface vessels. The 11-meter boat has a top speed of more than 40 knots and can be used as a manned platform.

The boat is compatible with the Royal Navy’s Hunt-class mine countermeasures ship. Atlas reps would not disclose the price of their ARCIMS boats.

The U.S. is also developing an autonomous mine-hunting boat with Textron for its Unmanned Influence Sweep System. The Navy inked a $14.8 million deal with Textron in April for two Common Unmanned Surface Vehicles as part of its own mine countermeasure program. 

David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.

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