Northrop Grumman has successfully tested its AQS-24B mine countermeasure deploy and retrieval (D&R) payload from a new mine countermeasures unmanned surface vessel (MCMUSV).
Previously employed from an unmanned rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB), the new USV is specially designed to operate with the AQS-24B and to be integrated with the US Navy’s Freedom and Independence class littoral combat ships (LCS) and other modern surface combatants.
“Achieving this important milestone demonstrated reliable unmanned mine hunting operations, while using operationally representative hardware from the LCS MCM Mission Module,” Northrop Grumman’s vice president, undersea systems Alan Lytle said in a statement. “This allows the program to begin preparation for further at-sea testing of the system for extended duration missions in rigorous conditions.”
The company describes the AQS-24B as a ‘deployed system which uses side-scan sonar for real-time detection, localisation and classification of bottom and moored mines in addition to a laser line scanner for precise optical identification.’
The AQS-24B is being pitched to the ADF for the RAN’s Project SEA 1778 Phase 1 deployable MCM requirement.