Northrop Grumman’s AQS-24 mine-hunting sonar recently completed initial in-water testing of a next-generation deploy-and-retrieval (D&R) payload from a mine countermeasures unmanned surface vessel (MCM USV).
CAPTION: An AQS-24B minehunter being deployed from the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vessel. Northrop Grumman photo.
The AQS-24 D&R demonstrated the unmanned operations needed to perform a mine-hunting mission off the MCM mission package aboard a littoral combat ship (LCS).
Vice president undersea systems at Northrop Grumman Alan Lytle said achieving this important milestone demonstrated reliable unmanned mine-hunting operations, while using operationally representative hardware from the LCS MCM mission module.
“This allows the program to begin preparation for further at-sea testing of the system for extended-duration missions in rigorous conditions,” Mr Lytle said.
“The MCM USV tests are ahead of planned user-operated system evaluation testing of the AQS-24 on LCSs.
“The company has multiple versions of the AQS-24 to provide mine-hunting capabilities for navies.”
AQS-24B is a deployed system which uses side-scan sonar for real-time detection, localisation and classification of bottom and moored mines in addition to a laser line scanner for precise optical identification.
Integration of the AQS-24 sonar with USVs will allow for the real-time transmission of all AQS-24 data to a remote sonar operator, who can then commence real-time mission analysis of all recorded mission data.
“Real-time mission analysis significantly reduces MCM detect-to-engage timelines, as well as the real-time reacquisition and identification of bottom mines following traditional mine hunting sorties,” Mr Lytle said.
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