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Belgium Navy to procure six R7 Remotely Operated Vehicles.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to a PR published by Exail on April 4, 2024, the Belgian Defense Ministry has procured six R7 Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). These systems are poised to strengthen the protection of harbors, coastal areas, ships, and critical infrastructure across Belgium.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 R7 Remotely Operated Vehicle. (Picture source: Navy Recognition)

The R7 by Exail is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) designed to serve various underwater purposes, from research and inspection to maintenance and object recovery. It's noteworthy for its blend of compact design, akin to mini-ROVs, with the capabilities usually found in larger, professional observation-class ROVs.

This combination makes the R7 a versatile tool for oceanographers, hydrographers, fish farmers, and others working with submerged structures, offering operational depths up to 300 meters.

One of the R7's key features is its incorporation of modern digital technology, which facilitates high-quality imaging and easy integration of different payloads through a plug-and-play system enabled by its all-digital architecture. This design allows for scalability and adaptability to a wide range of tasks.

Ergonomically, the R7 is designed to be user-friendly, with a focus on a straightforward Human-Machine Interface (HMI) that simplifies operation. For tasks requiring physical interaction with the underwater environment, the ROV can be equipped with a manipulator arm that boasts up to five functions, enhancing its maneuverability and allowing it to handle or recover objects weighing up to 2kg.

For specialized applications, such as Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) neutralization, the R7 can carry payloads designed for such tasks, including a neutralization charge.

Its accuracy and reliability in positioning are supported by integrated sensors including Inertial Navigation Systems (INS), Doppler Velocity Logs (DVL), and Ultra Short Baseline (USBL) systems. Additionally, the inclusion of multibeam sonar and an Orphie 12S camera enhances its capability for precise target detection and identification under challenging conditions.

As reminder, Belgium offered Ukraine R7s as part of its war against Russia. To the best of our knowledge, Ukraine has never communicated publicly whether or not it has used them.

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