Northrop Grumman has announced that its AQS-24 mine hunting sonar recently completed initial in-water testing of a next-generation Deploy and Retrieval (D&R) payload.
The AQS-24 D&R operated from the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vessel (MCM USV), and showcased the unmanned operations necessary to perform a mine hunting mission off the MCM Mission Package aboard the littoral combat ship (LCS).
“Achieving this important milestone demonstrated reliable unmanned mine hunting operations, while using operationally representative hardware from the LCS MCM Mission Module,” explains Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman.
“This allows the program to begin preparation for further at-sea testing of the system for extended duration missions in rigorous conditions.”
The MCM USV tests were conducted ahead of scheduled user-operated evaluation system testing of the AQS-24 on LCSs. Northrop Grumman notes that it has several versions of the AQS-24 to provide mine hunting capabilities for navies.
Described as a “deployed system,” the AQS-24B uses side-scan sonar for real-time detection, localization and classification of bottom and moored mines. For precise optical identification, the system is also equipped with a laser line scanner.
When USVs are equipped with the AQS-24 sonar, all AQS-24 data can be transmitted in real time to a remote sonar operator. This operator can then begin real-time mission analysis (RTMA) of all recorded mission data.
According to Northrop Grumman, RTMA not only greatly reduces MCM detect to engage timelines, but also the real-time reacquisition and identification of bottom mines following traditional mine hunting sorties.
This article was published by AUVSI News on January 7, 2020.