The UK and France have announced a joint development program for autonomous minehunting systems that are intended to carry out the mine countermeasures mission while keeping personnel out of harm’s way. At the Franco-British Council Defence Conference the other day, the UK announced a $250 million investment in the joint Maritime Mine Counter Measure (MMCM) programme, which will create new high tech systems to combat sea mines. The contract will support over 200 jobs across the UK. “This [$250 million] contract offers a huge leap forward for the Royal Navy’s autonomous capabilities in the detection and defeat of sea mines,” said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in a statement. “As the Armed Forces puts modernisation at the heart of its future strategy, these systems will protect vital shipping lanes, commercial traffic and our brave personnel from these deadly devices.” Following a successful demonstration phase and trials completed in October 2020, the new contract will produce three sets of minehunting equipment. “I am enormously excited by the potential of the future minehunting capability. This will allow us to deliver minehunting more effectively, more efficiently and more safely, and to integrate even more closely with our French counterparts in this important area,” said First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin.