Northrop Grumman has commenced the delivery of two upgraded AQS-24C mine hunting systems to the US Navy.
The company has delivered the first two AQS-24C systems, which are an upgrade to the US Navy’s AQS-24B mine hunting system that was introduced to the fleet in 2017.
As part of the upgrade, Northrop added an in-stride volume search capability to the AQS-24B.
Since its induction, the AQS-24B has been deployed in naval operations from both the MH-53E helicopter and the mine hunting unit unmanned surface vehicle (MHU USV) platforms.
Following the development of the upgraded AQS-24C systems, they underwent shipboard contractor testing and government helicopter testing on the MH-53E platform.
With the successful completion of the testing, Northrop started production of the systems to meet the US Navy requirement for increased mine hunting capability.
Northrop Grumman undersea systems vice-president Alan Lytle said: “The AQS-24C is a cost-effective upgrade to an existing system, providing long-range volume search mine hunting while minimising development costs and providing great value to the US Navy customer.
“This new capability will keep sailors out of harm’s way and shorten the mine clearance timeline.”
The company is also integrating the AQS-24 onto the US Navy’s MHU USV, which will be tested for operational use from Navy surface platforms, under a separate contract.
The AQS-24B system has the ability to offer high-resolution, side scan sonar for real-time detection, localisation and classification of bottom and moored mines at high area coverage rates.
In 2016, Northrop delivered the first of three lots of mine hunting sonar upgrade kits to the US Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division to be used by the HM-12, -14 and -15 Mine Countermeasures Squadrons. The kits were used to upgrade AQS-24A mine hunting systems into AQS-24B.