STUTTGART, Germany — Naval Group Belgium inaugurated two new research and development laboratories in Brussels this week, focusing on novel mine countermeasures and cybersecurity, the company announced Thursday.

Officials from across the Belgian Defence Ministry joined senior Naval Group leaders at the French subsidiary’s headquarters in the capital to formally launch the MCM Lab and the Cyber Lab. The two collaborative R&D centers are meant to bring together government, industry and academic partners working on innovative solutions in the two capability areas, Naval Group said in a news release.

The labs will be the “central point” for Naval Group’s research and development work in mine countermeasures and cybersecurity, said Eric Papin, the company’s executive vice president and chief technical and innovation officer. The MCM lab, for instance, could help coordinate and reinforce the Belgian and European mine countermeasures ecosystem, and ultimately become a “European reference center” for mine warfare solutions.

Notably, the MCM Lab was derived as part of an industrial cooperation plan linked to the Belgian-Dutch mine countermeasures replacement program, which was awarded in 2019 to Belgium Naval and Robotics, a consortium made up of Naval Group and European robotics company ECA Group.

The rMCM program will supply the Belgian and Royal Netherlands navies with 12 minehunter vessels and about 100 unmanned systems, according to Naval Group.

Meanwhile, the Cyber Lab will focus on developing cybersecurity technologies for ships and unmanned naval systems, as well as shore-based infrastructure, per Naval Group. It will also contribute solutions specifically to benefit the rMCM program, and the company said it expects the future Belgian Cyber Command of Defence to follow its developments “in order to integrate the technologies where possible.”

The Brussels Times reported in January that Belgium plans to invest €61 million (U.S. $64 million) in cyber capabilities following a December 2021 cyberattack. Meanwhile, Cybersec Europe reported late last year that the country’s military plans to stand up its own cyber command by the end of 2022.

Vivienne Machi is a reporter based in Stuttgart, Germany, contributing to Defense News' European coverage. She previously reported for National Defense Magazine, Defense Daily, Via Satellite, Foreign Policy and the Dayton Daily News. She was named the Defence Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2020.

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