The US Navy has completed the developmental testing for the AN/AQS-20C mine-hunting sonar system at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division (NSWC PCD).
The Raytheon-developed AQS-20C, which is an advanced variant of the AN/AQS-20 system, is set to be incorporated into the littoral combat ship (LCS) mine countermeasures mission package.
Developmental testing is performed to verify whether the system’s design conforms to all technical specifications.
As part of the testing, the towed sonar sensor carried out 12 underway missions in various operational modes and at different depths.
The US Navy conducted the missions at four separate NSWC PCD test ranges aboard the test vessel M/V Patriot.
With the successful completion of the developmental testing, the Navy will now integrate with and deploy the AQS-20C from the mine countermeasures unmanned surface vehicle (MCM USV).
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The MCM USV, which is currently undergoing developmental testing as a component of the Unmanned Influence Sweep System, is a semi-autonomous surface craft that can be used to support the employment of various mine countermeasure payloads.
NAVSEA noted that the vehicle can be launched and recovered by the LCS, from other vessels of opportunity, or from shore sites. The USV can be deployed to support minesweeping, mine-hunting and mine neutralisation operations.
Some of the key capabilities of the vessel include propulsion, power generation, communications to and from the host ship, radar, optical cameras, navigation, and a modular payload system.
Furthermore, the US Navy will subject the AQS-20C test results to scoring and performance assessment. Thereafter, a final developmental testing report will be delivered in the spring.
The US Department of Defence approved the Navy’s project to develop a mine countermeasure unmanned surface vehicle to replace its aging MCM infrastructure, reported USNI News.
The system comprises four sonar arrays, including two side-looking arrays and a gap-filler sonar array. The fourth one is a forward-looking sonar array designed to provide simultaneous detection, localisation and classification of bottom mines, close-tethered moored mines, and volume-moored mines.
The mine-hunting sonar system has the capability to deliver high-definition images of bottom mines.
This will deliver both range and contrast data that form a three-dimensional image to assist operators in mine identification during post-mission analysis.