The US Navy has attained initial operating capability (IOC) for its AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS).
Designed and built by Northrop Grumman, the ALMDS enables rapid wide-area survey as well as assessment of mine threats in littoral zones, choke points, confined straits, sea lanes and amphibious areas of operations.
Programme Executive Office Littoral Combat Ships (PEO LCS), Mine Warfare Programme Office (PMS 495) ALMDS assistant programme manager Erik Maskelony said: “With initial operational capability, the ALMDS programme has delivered a new and important capability to the navy and to our nation, the first of its kind for mine warfare.”
The US Navy’s ALMDS system makes use of a sensor pod to quickly sweep the water using laser technology, which can be easily installed on a medium-lift helicopter and immediately removed after completion of mission.
The speedy and accurate detection capabilities of the ALMDS system will not only help enhance the US Navy’s mine detection capabilities, but will also ensure the safety of its service members across the globe.
Northrop Grumman Directed Energy vice-president Mark Skinner said: “Using forward motion of the aircraft, ALMDS’s pulsed laser light generates 3D images of the near-surface volume to detect, classify and localise near-surface moored sea mines.
“Highly accurate in day or night operations, the untethered ALMDS sensor conducts rapid wide-area searches with high accuracy.”
Generated by ALMDS, the target data is displayed on a console and is preserved for post-mission analysis.
Installed aboard the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, the ALMDS is mounted on a Bomb Rack Unit 14, which is deployed on the carriage, stream, tow, and recovery system.
The self-contained design of the Northrop Grumman system facilitates its installation on other aircraft types as well.
Image: ALMDS offers wide-area research and assessment of mine threats in sea lanes, littoral zones, confined straits, choke points and amphibious areas of operations. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corporation.