"The delivery of the anti-submarine warfare mission package will provide the Navy with a persistent large area detection capability, through our advanced unmanned vehicles and bi-static ASW systems," said Sandel. "Tomorrow we will take a critical step forward in support of assured access in the littorals for U.S. Joint Forces."More here:
LCS can be configured to deploy with any one of three interchangeable mission modules: the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) module; mine countermeasures (MCM) module and surface warfare (SUW) module also know as mission packages. The first ASW mission package (MP) will use several different vehicles -- MH-60R, unmanned air vehicle, unmanned surface vehicle -- and associated sensors -- towed array sonar, remote towed active source, USV dipping sonar, multi-static off-board source -- to detect, classify, localize, track and engage submarines in the littoral environment.
The aircraft and water vessels will tow acoustic sensors capable of discerning quiet diesel-electric submarines in the cluttered underwater environment, says Capt. Michael Good, program manager of the LCS mission modules.
The unmanned systems will allow the Navy to hunt those submarines without putting ships in range of torpedoes.
“We don’t want to be in a knife fight in a phone booth,” says Good.
The remote multi-mission vehicle will chug through the water like a snorkeling submarine. It will release one of two medium-frequency sonar arrays that will emit an acoustic signal or listen for returns as they are towed along.
The plan is for the two RMMVs to work in concert as a bi-static acoustic detection system. The first vehicle will deploy an active sonar array and the second will tow a hydrophone array.
Likewise, the unmanned surface vehicles will carry one of two payloads, an active low-frequency sonar, called the multi-static off-board source, or a hydrophone towed array. The USV also can deploy a modified dipping sonar typically operated from helicopters. The Navy is looking at several variants, including Raytheon’s AN/AQS-22 airborne low-frequency sonar and the HELRAS DS-100 made by L3 Communications.
“We’re looking at both possibilities down the road,” says Good.
Armed with the MK-54 torpedo, the manned Sikorsky MH-60R helicopter will act as a “pouncer” to attack the threat submarine after detections are made by the sensor payloads on the unmanned vehicles, he says.
Outfitted with an electro-optical infrared sensor, Northrop Grumman’s Fire Scout rotorcraft will perform as a communications relay platform to extend the distance that the unmanned vehicles can operate away from the LCS. In the future, it could be equipped with other anti-submarine warfare sensors, says Good.
The first ASW mission package, set for delivery in September, will not have the RMMV and its two towed systems. The second package, whose delivery date has not yet been determined, will include the underwater vehicle and the towed systems.
“We’re very eager to get the integration work done on the unmanned surface vehicles and get them to sea,” says Good. Testing will be completed this spring.
This fall, Good plans to evaluate the full mission package at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center, an instrumented range in the Bahamas. Because the range isn’t large enough or deep enough to fully test the systems at the lower frequencies, he is also working on locations at sea where the use of active sonar will be permitted.
The requirement for the LCS anti-submarine warfare package was to be able to hunt quiet diesel submarines in the littorals. But some of these systems, particularly those employing lower frequencies, will work in deep water, says Good. His intention is to operate as many of the systems in deeper ocean to evaluate potential applications for anti-submarine warfare.
But first he has to find a way to set sail with the technologies. With LCS delayed and facing an uncertain future, he is working to identify a substitute vessel that could take the mission package to sea for testing.
“I just have to be a little more creative in how I get to sea,” says Good, who is contemplating options including barges.