Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Thursday, January 12, 2017

U.S. Counter- Mine Warfare: Getting a New Package to the Fleet

Interesting USNI News report from Megan Eckstein Navy Finalizing Counter-Mine Package for Littoral Combat Ships:
Northrup Grumman photo H-60S with ALMDS
The initial package would include the MH-60S helicopter towing the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) and Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) – all three of which reached initial operational capability in November – and an unmanned vehicle to tow the AN/AQS-20A sonar. This initial package provides detect-to-engage capabilities, but eventually the service will also add a buried- and high-clutter bottom search capability, a beach and surf zone search capability, a near-surface neutralizer and a minesweeper, with each being added as they wrap up development and test.
Raytheon photo AMNS

“We want to make the systems as flexible as possible, so while they will remain tied to the LCS as a capability LCS will have, we want to be able to put them aboard other ships if required to provide additional capacity, or capability in areas where the LCS aren’t currently” deployed, he said.
“The intent is to make [the package] as expeditionary as possible so we could deploy it rapidly. Now in some places where we know there might be a threat we can preposition the gear, either to await a ship or (on a ship) if we have a ship there. For instance, the ESBs, we have one deploying to 5th Fleet [area of responsibility] in 2017, that would be a likely candidate for additional integration.”
As for shore-based expeditionary mine countermeasures, there’s reason to believe an
Mk18, Mod 2 "Kingfish" USN photo by MC2 Blake Midnight
operator ashore could conduct blue-water mine countermeasures operations – at a greater distance than the shore-based expeditionary explosive ordnance disposal and mine countermeasures units using the Mk 18 Mod 2 unmanned vehicle for harbor and other near-shore activities.

“Right now the control systems are tied to the consoles aboard the LCS, both classes of LCS, but they are potentially deployable in a mobile system,” Owens explained.
“We had one (mobile console) we experimented with in exercise Unmanned Warrior in Scotland a few months ago using different (unmanned) systems, but the concept is viable. We put together a command and control suite inside what really is a 20-foot container unit and were able to control a variety of surface, undersurface and air platforms simultaneously.”
More about ALMDS here.

More about AMNS here.

Earlier post on "Unmanned Warrior" exercise here.


1 comment:

  1. Size, shape, shadow, ring. Those are the moored mine aspects the operator looks at to determine if a contact is minelike. Modern bottom mines are somewhat more difficult to suss out particularly in areas with a lot of metal bottom debris from generations of mariners dumping stuff over the side.

    NAVSEA, NUWC Keyport, et al have been working on this sort of thing now for almost 40 years and to the best of my knowledge still don't have anything to show for it but lost and gone remote vehicles. AMCM as a precursor made a lot of sense inside the 10 fathom curve but those guys weren't hunting, they were sweeping with influence sweep gear or airborne O gear.

    On the other hand, I did actually see on my colleagues desk, an anti-mine torpedo and to be honest, that was pretty cool. Vectoring a zodiac over the mine using the SQQ-14 and a sonar reflector was a hazardous business, right up there with dropping a 250 pound bomb rigged under the zodiac on a bottom influence mine.