Three offers were received, and in the end the contract went to the joint venture between Naval Group and ECA-Robotics. Belgium will take six ships for a total of 1.115 billion euros – 200 million less than the initial provisional budget.
According to economy minister Kris Peeters, 30 contracts have been lined up between the French consortium and Belgian businesses; half of them in Flanders, 35% in Wallonia and the rest in Brussels. The port of Zeebrugge will be employed to carry out the break-up of the existing minesweepers, as well as the maintenance and repair of the new ships.
The contract also provides for the creation of a centre of excellence, eventually employing 350 people in the fight against mines at sea – a subject in which the Belgian navy is recognised worldwide for its expertise.
The minesweepers will measure 80m in length and carry a crew of 63. The first vessels will be delivered in 2023-24, with the contract running until 2030.
Meanwhile, also as part of an overall plan to modernise the navy, a contract procedure for the replacement of the country’s two frigates is due to be concluded next year. Another join contract with the Netherlands, this time piloted by the Dutch navy.