EDA launches new phase of next-generation minesweeping project

The European Defense Agency (EDA) has launched the third phase of its Modular Lightweight Minesweeping Next Generation (MLM-NG) project. 

European Defence Agency (EDA)

As disclosed, the main objective is to further raise the technology readiness level (TRL) of relevant systems and to demonstrate the use of modular lightweight minesweeping in an operational setting, building upon the developments within the first (2011-2014) and second (2018-2021) phases.

This third phase, which has a budget of around €9.2 million, brings together six member states: Belgium, Germany, France, Finland, and Poland. It is led by Norway. 

Across Europe, several nations are planning a replacement or reintroduction of their maritime minesweeping capability.

Most concepts for new capabilities are based on a flexible solution with autonomous and remotely operated sweeping systems, but the technology is not mature enough to be adopted by most nations.

The aim for future mine sweeping solutions is to develop and utilize smaller unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) with lightweight sweep sources. These sources can be operated with a single platform or by a formation of several USVs, depending on the operation.

The previous, MLM-II project, developed technology demonstrators and proved the feasibility of the modular and lightweight concept for minesweeping. MLM-NG will use the results from the MLM projects and to further develop the relevant technologies. The project will also look into tactics, procedures, and the concept of operations for such systems.

MLM-NG aims to culminate with a live demonstration in sea trails, currently foreseen for summer 2026 in Norway. Those tests are planned to include an operational assessment in addition to the technological and conceptual evaluations.

During the demonstration, all systems will be controlled from a command center on land, without personnel in the mine danger area. In the build-up to the demonstration, the project will also address operational use, procedures, command and control (C2) principles, the concept of operations (CONOPS) and functional requirements.