The ECA Group in France has been awarded a contract by Thales UK for the delivery of forty Mine Killer K-STER vehicles, a "one shot" expendable mine disposal vehicle (EMDV) that reduces mine-clearance time by identifying and destroying all types of mines including moored, bottom and partly-buried mines. The contract is part of the refit of two decommissioned HUNT class mine hunters, resold by the British MOD to the Lithuanian Navy.
Since the beginning of 2008, Thales has only awarded two contracts for Mine Warfare robotic systems worldwide: both contracts were attributed to ECA, the designer and manufacturer of robotic systems for the marine, defence, civil and aeronautic sectors. The company says one of the main reasons for selecting the K-STER is its key feature, the patented tiltable warhead. The perpendicular tilt is extremely accurate and efficient, firing directly into the mine for maximum mine penetration.
CSIP, a wholly owned UK subsidiary of ECA, specialises in remote controlled robotic systems for hostile environments and will also be contracted to fit the systems on board as well as conduct harbour and sea acceptance trials.
The lightweight K-STER ROV has an operational speed of over 6kn and is highly stable, with the ability to hover even when facing strong currents. Automatically guided towards the target, the K-STER provides easy operation and gives a light, portable solution for short inspection tasks in water depths down to 3000m and up to 1000m from its launching point. It is designed to operate from any non-dedicated platform, at short or long range, in shallow or deep water.