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France evaluates drone anti-mine system

Oct. 25, 2012 at 8:45 AM

PARIS, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- A possible system of "drone-carrying drones" for use in detecting and destroying naval mines is being studied by France's Directorate General of Armaments.

The study is part of Espadon, a long-term project evaluating the feasibility of automated clearance of surface and subsurface naval mines.

DGA said France intends to replace current naval mine-clearance equipment around the year 2020.

The system being evaluated consists of a surface drone and two types of underwater drones that it would carry for use in coastal waters as well as in larger maritime areas.

Experiments of a potential system have been conducted off shore since last year and tests are scheduled for a second drone prototype demonstrator.

A French industry group -- comprised of DCNS, Thales Underwater Systems and ECA -- were awarded a contract for the Espadon program in 2009.

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