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.