US Navy exercise proves critical fleet mine countermeasures
The US Navy announced the successful launch and recovery of the Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV) carrying the Raytheon-developed AN/AQS-20A minehunting sonar. The launch and recovery was the first demonstration of the unmanned, remotely-operated RMMV deployed from the USS Independence (LCS 2) while underway.
AN/AQS-20A is a critical element of the US Navy's mine countermeasure capability and the only minehunting sonar sensor developed, tested and certified for RMMV deployment. AN/AQS-20A is the most advanced mine warfare sensor to be deployed from multiple search platforms.
"This exercise has proven the capabilities of both the RMMV and AQS-20A, testing both stability and performance in an operational environment," said Steve Lose, US Navy program manager for Unmanned Maritime Vehicles (PMS 403). "The advancements of the AN/AQS-20A bring our minehunting capabilities to the next level; and with the adaptability of the system for both helicopter and RMMV deployment, we extend our ability to effectively and efficiently ensure the safety of the fleet."
Raytheon provides both the AN/AQS-20A and the AN/ASQ-235 Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS), which are two of the components in the mine countermeasure mission package for the Littoral Combat Ship class. Supporting mine-clearing operations in both deep-ocean and littoral waters, AN/AQS-20A detects, localizes and identifies bottom, close-tethered and volume mines, and AMNS re-acquires and neutralizes mines found by AN/AQS-20A.
Considered critical components of the Navy's organic mine countermeasure arsenal, the advanced technologies of these systems deliver a comprehensive, end-to-end solution - detect to neutralize - enabling the Navy to safely and effectively execute its mission with reduced risk to its ships and crews.
AN/AQS-20A has been successfully integrated into both the MH-60S and the MH-53E airborne mine countermeasures helicopters. In addition, the AMNS has been successfully integrated into the MH-60S helicopter. AN/AQS-20A has been effectively operated from the AN/WLD-1 Remote Minehunting System, and now successfully deployed from LCS 2.
The AN/AQS-20A system is towed undersea to scan the water in front and to the sides of the vehicle as well as below for anti-shipping mines. The system uses sonar and electro-optical sensors to provide high-resolution images of mines and mine-like objects as well as high-precision location information.
AMNS is deployed from the MH-60S multi-mission helicopter to locate and destroy underwater anti-shipping mines previously detected by the AN/AQS-20A mine hunting sonar. The system consists of a helicopter-based control console as well as a launch and handling system equipped with four unmanned Archerfish(TM) neutralizer vehicles that destroy mines via remote control from the operator in the helicopter.
Developmental and operational testing of the AN/AQS-20A and AMNS began in 2002. Deliveries under current contracts continue, with 15 AN/AQS-20A and five AMNS systems delivered to date.
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