The inauguration ceremony took place at Naval Group Belgium's premises in Brussels, in the presence of Ludivine Dedonder, Belgian Minister of Defence, Admiral Michel Hofman, Belgian Cief of Defence, Admiral Jan de Beurme, Chief of Staff of the Belgian Navy, Olivier de la Bourdonnaye, EVP Programs at Naval Group and Eric Papin, EVP Innovation at Naval Group.
Olivier de la Bourdonnaye, EVP Programs at Naval Group, said: "The inauguration of the MCM Lab and the Cyber Lab illustrates another side of our ambition to establish a long-term presence in Belgium in order to meet Belgium's essential security interests. The institutional, industrial and academic partners federated around the two Labs are working together to develop new strategic capabilities to serve Belgian sovereignty and to prepare together the future of mine countermeasures and cybersecurity in the maritime and naval domains.”
Eric Papin, EVP Chief Technical and Innovation Officer at Naval Group explained that "Naval Group has chosen to locate these Labs within its Belgian subsidiary in order to capitalise on the rich industrial and academic ecosystem in the naval field and more particularly in the mine countermeasures field. These two Labs are the central point for Naval Group's R&D activities in this key area. Their work will increase the information superiority of Belgian and allied navies and meet their needs as closely as possible. They will provide a clear operational advantage in mine countermeasures missions in order to offer the best technologies to face current and future threats.”
During the visit, Naval Group Belgium’s team and their Belgian partners presented their first joint projects, focusing in particular on naval cyber security, mine countermeasures mission systems, robotics, artificial intelligence and acoustic discretion.
The MCM Lab and Cyber Lab: two centres of excellences, partners of the Belgian Defence Technological and Industrial Base and of European research
The MCM Lab is one of the key components of the industrial cooperation plan associated with the Belgian-Dutch mine countermeasure replacement program (rMCM) awarded in 2019 to Belgium Naval & Robotics, the consortium made up of Naval Group and ECA Group. This consortium was chosen by the Belgian and Royal Netherlands navies to supply twelve mine countermeasures vessels and a toolbox composed of around 100 drones.
One of the main objectives of the MCM Lab is to reinforce the Belgian and European mine countermeasures ecosystem. Its ambition is to become the European reference centre for the research and development of technical solutions covering the different domains of mine warfare.
The MCM Lab is a collaboration between Naval Group, Naval Group Belgium, ECA Robotics, ECA Robotics Belgium, ABC (Anglo Belgian Corporation), DotOcean, Space Applications Services, University of Ghent, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), the Royal Belgium Institute of National Sciences (RBINS) and the Royal Military Academy (RMA).
The Cyber Lab teams focus on the development of cybersecurity technologies for naval applications, in particular for ship and unmanned systems as well as for shore-based infrastructures. The work in progress involves, alongside Naval Group's cyber experts, Belgian and European partners such as NVISO. The Cyber Lab is a centre of excellence specialising in the implementation of cybersecurity measures developed for the benefit of the rMCM program. The Cyber Lab is also a key promoter of the development of technologies and solutions for the naval and maritime sectors in Europe. The future Belgian Cyber Command of Defence will follow this development in order to integrate the technologies where possible.
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