Following a call for tenders launched in the Summer of 2018, the Belgian navy has awarded the Belgium Naval & Robotics consortium, bringing together Naval Group and ECA Group, the supply of 12 mine-hunting vessels equipped with a total of 100 drones. Six ships are for the Belgian navy, the other six will be delivered to the Dutch navy. The final notification of the contract should take place in the coming weeks.
The ECA Group share of this contract represents around €450 million. The 10-year program will start with a design phase of about 3 years before the production and delivery phase of the drone systems. The contract should generate revenue starting 2019.
This contract will be, by far, the largest contract ever won by ECA Group, its amount being greater than 4 years of turnover for the group.
This success is the achievement of a strategy focused for many years on the development of drone systems composed of multiple and varied drones cooperating as autonomously as possible within the same mission. In this case, it is a mine clearance mission at sea.
The Belgian and Dutch navies are thus acquiring the latest generation of mine hunters designed by Naval Group and fully integrating ECA Group's naval drones capable of conducting submarine mine clearance operations autonomously in the minefield. The drone systems to provide are the latest generations of drones developed over the last 4 years. The drones, all integrated into ECA Group's C2 MCM system, are Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), towed sonars and Mine Identification & Destruction Systems (MIDS) composed of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) for the identification and destruction of mines, all of these drones can be implemented fully automatically from the USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicles). The naval drones system also incorporates UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and sweeps.
The Belgian navy is a reference in submarine mine clearance within NATO, this contract is a major asset for export: as 40 years ago with the tripartite mine hunters program that had generated sales of PAP robots to dozens of marines in 20 years, this success in Belgium should generate many commercial export benefits in the coming years.
Several major navies including France, India or England will renew their mine hunting fleet in the coming years. In addition, ECA Group believes that most navies will also be equipped with transportable drone systems that can be used from the coast.
A significant part of the execution of the contract will take place in Belgium within ECA Robotics Belgium, as part of a cooperation plan that already includes 39 Belgian partners. The equipped surface drones will be designed and produced in Belgium and all underwater drones will also be produced there. Finally, these naval or air drones generate a logistic support, repairs, spares activities that can be done by ECA Robotics Belgium. These activities generate additional revenues as maintenance and support contracts throughout the lifespan of drones, generally greater than 20 years for naval drones.
ECA SA shares trading on EURONEXT PARIS has been suspended on Friday 16 March afternoon and will resume on Tuesday 19 March at the opening of the Exchange.
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Recognized for its expertise in robotics, automation systems, simulation and industrial processes, the ECA GROUP has been developing complete, innovative technological solutions for complex missions in hostile and confined environments since 1936. Its product offering is designed for an international client base that is demanding, both in terms of safety and effectiveness. The Group's main markets are in the defense, maritime, aeronautics, simulation, industrial and energy sectors.
In 2018, the Group reported revenue of €102 million across its three divisions: Robotics, Aerospace and Simulation. The ECA GROUP is a Groupe Gorgé company.
The ECA GROUP is listed on Euronext Paris Compartment C.
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