The US Navy has tested the AN/AQS-20A variable depth sonar system’s hydrodynamic behaviour when towed by various surface and semi-submersible vehicles.
Intended to improve the mine-hunting ability of the sonar, the tests were conducted by the Navy's Unmanned Maritime Systems programme office, along with the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division at Carderock's David Taylor Model Basin, Bethesda, US.
Designed for use on the navy's littoral combat ships, the sonar system detects and classifies mines using imaging sonar, signal processing and computer algorithms.
PMS 406 programme manager captain Bill Guarini said: "Testing at Carderock's impressive basin was part of the Navy's proactive approach to identify the root cause of this occurrence.
"This new data will help us deliver improved mine-hunting capability to our sailors."
The data from previous tests indicated that the AN/AQS-20A exhibited an off-centre bias, or sway when towed.
The sway affects the sonar's capability to detect the position of mine-like objects in the water column or on the sea floor.
The newly conducted tests will help in the determination of the root cause of the sway phenomena and will thereby help improve the sonar's detection algorithms.
Recommendations will be made to the LCS programme office and NAVSEA's engineering directorate to undertake corrective action or further testing of the sonar system.
Raytheon-developed AN/AQS-20 is an advanced minehunting sonar system that provides real-time, computer-aided detection and classification against the full spectrum of threat mines.
It automatically localises mine-like objects and provides visual image and a contact data list to the operator.
Image: A helicopter deployed with AN/AQS-20 sonar system. Photo: courtesy of US Navy.