T18-M is a self-powered towed interferometric synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) for Real Time Detection, Classification and Mapping (SCM) of seabed and moored mines. Its equipped with a thinner umbilical cable and a lighter equipment for easier deployment from a USV or another platform.
T18-M is self-powered. Without electrical conductors, the towing cable can be smaller and lighter which has several advantages:
- The performance of towed sonar at great depths is very much related to the drag of the cable and therefore to its diameter. As a result, the T18-M has outstanding navigation performance even when a long cable length is in the water and even at high sea speeds thanks to the reduced diameter of the cable.
- A smaller cable can reduce the size and power of the winch on the carrier boat and the towing power requirement, and therefore the size of the boat's engines, which is particularly important when towed sonar is launched from a USV (The drone reduces crew exposure to the minefield). In order to avoid too large motherships, the USVs shall be as compact as possible: The smaller the USVs are, the smaller will be the boats which embark them.
- Energy on board the towed vehicle avoids having an electric generator on towing boat, which saves space and weight (very useful for a small USV) and provides as well greater operational reliability and greater safety (electrical) for crew when operated towing boat.
- Since the A18-M and T18-M are very similar, ECA Group teams have designed a common LARS for automatic launching and recovery of both of them from a USV. This point significantly reduces the reconfiguration time of the USV between an AUV mission and a towed sonar mission which is an great operational advantage.