The US Navy has successfully completed the launch handling and recovery testing of the remote multi-mission vehicle (RMMV) aboard the Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Independence (LCS 2).
During the trial, the RMMV has been launched and recovered at sea and demonstrated its design improvements, recovery equipment and the ship's twin boom extensible crane (TBEC).
In addition, the unmanned offboard vehicle also demonstrated 23 hours of continuous in-water operations along with its AN/AQS-20A sonar, as part of the testing.
The LCS mission modules test and evaluation assistant programme manager, Michelle Clark, said about twelve dozen successful launch and recovery missions have been conducted by the mine countermeasures detachment and test team.
The trials also validated the crew's ability to communicate with two off-board RMMVs simultaneously.
The RMMV is a high-endurance, semi-autonomous, low-observable, diesel-powered vehicle, capable of supporting minehunting sensors using towed AN/AQS-20A variable depth mine-hunting sonar.
LCS mission modules programme manager captain, John Ailes, said that the MCM mission package, which represents a significant improvement over currently deployed mine-hunting systems, enables the navy to keep ships safely in a minefield.
As part of the mine countermeasures mission (MCM) package, one of three packages being developed for the US Navy's LCS programme, the RMMV can be used for detection, classification and localisation of mine-like contacts and mine identification of bottom mines.
Capable of providing a visual image and a contact data list for operators, the AN/AQS-20A is fitted with five separate sonar / sensors in a compact, lightweight and hydro-dynamically stable towed body to localise mine-like objects.
The MCM initial operational test and evaluation is expected to be completed in 2015, marking the final step for the US Navy to achieve initial operational capability for the package.
Image: US Navy personnel perform RMMV maintenance before at-sea testing. Photo: courtesy of US Navy.