The US Navy has received Northrop Grumman's first AQS-24B mine hunting sonar upgrade kits, which will be used by HM-12, -14 and -15 Mine Countermeasures Squadrons.
Awarded by the US Navy's mine warfare programme office, the production contract seeks to upgrade 27 AQS-24A mine hunting systems into the more advanced AQS-24B system.
Northrop Grumman Mission Systems undersea systems vice-president Alan Lytle said: "The successful delivery of the initial eight production AQS-24B kits allows for the first operational employment of high-speed synthetic aperture sonar technology by the US Navy."
Work under the contract is being carried out in three production lots.
The second lot is slated for delivery this autumn, and the third is scheduled for early 2017.
The AQS-24B is a high-speed airborne mine hunting system fitted with high-resolution, side-scan sonar equipment that allows it to detect, locate and classify bottom and moored mines in real-time.
The addition of the high-speed synthetic aperture sonar increases sonar resolution by a factor of three, enhances performance and eliminates issues caused by diminishing materials.
The AQS-24B will be installed in MH-53E helicopters and the mine hunting unmanned (MHU) surface vessels, which are currently conducting operations in the Arabian Gulf.
Image: Northrop Grumman's AQS-24B mine hunting system. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman.