The US Department of Defense (DoD) has contracted BAE Systems to manufacture and deliver Archerfish mine neutralisers and to continue supporting its minesweeping operation.
BAE will manufacture Archerfish, which is a remotely-controlled underwater vehicle equipped with an explosive warhead, at its Broad Oak facility in Portsmouth, UK, and will also supply fibre-optic spools.
The £15.5m contract includes further options, which if exercised will bring the value of the contract to £39m.
Forming a key part of the US Navy’s airborne mine neutralisation system (AMNS) programme since 2007, the Archerfish is an expendable mine neutraliser or single shot mine disposal system, capable of combating the threat of modern mines.
Deployed from a launch ‘cradle’ with a fibre-optic data link providing exacting command of the weapon, the equipment can be launched and operated from surface ships, helicopters and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).
Archerfish leverages on the high frequency sonar and low light video data to track mine threats and fires the shaped charge warhead, initiating a full order detonation of the target.
The fibre-optic spools will link the Archerfish mine neutraliser and the launch platform, which is an MH-60S helicopter deployed from the US Navy’s littoral combat ships.
BAE Systems product and training services director Les Gregory said: "This important contract demonstrates BAE Systems’ ability to deliver equipment that provides greater security and resilience to modern threats around the world, and we look forward to meeting the US Navy’s demand for a first-class underwater defence capability for many years to come."
Delivery of the equipment to the US Navy is expected to begin next year.
Last month, BAE Systems was contracted by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) to provide technical support for the US Navy’s communications and electronics.
Image: Archerfish mine neutralised fitted on to an aircraft. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.