Northrop Grumman has partnered with software solutions provider SeeByte to incorporate AQS-24B mine-hunting sensor data into the SeeTrack system in order to improve its autonomous target recognition (ATR) capabilities.
The AQS-24B sensor is able to scan the ocean floor at a speed of 18k, which is almost twice as fast as any other operational towed mine-hunting device currently available on the market.
Northrop Grumman Undersea Systems vice-president Alan Lytle said: “The merging of the unmanned surface vessel-based AQS-24B with the SeeByte ATR will provide international navies with a better probability of detection and classification of bottom mines than is currently possible with an operator-only system.”
The system is fitted with a high-resolution side-scan sonar to facilitate the real-time detection, localisation and classification of mines at high coverage rates.
It is also equipped with a laser line scanner in order to ensure precise optical identification results.
SeeByte chief executive officer Bob Black said: “This will be the first ATR in existence directly supporting the highest-speed synthetic aperture sonar in the world, and marks a true advancement in the state-of-the-art for such capabilities.”
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The two companies originally entered the collaboration agreement more than a year ago and are now expected to carry out a demonstration of an initial release of the new capability.
The demonstration will be conducted during the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) planned Autonomous Warrior 18 exercise, which is set to be held in November in Jervis Bay, Sydney, New South Wales.
Northrop Grumman noted that the new sonar capability will be made available for future mine countermeasures ships and payload programmes across Europe, the Middle East and Pacific Rim.