Raytheon Company and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center – Division Newport have enhanced Raytheon's AN/AQS-20A mine-hunting sonar for better performance and reliability, including higher-quality imaging of objects deep under the sea, improving the system's ability to identify and classify mines.
Raytheon and NUWC formally launched the AN/AQS-20A collaboration last year, under a 'work for private party' contract funded by Raytheon. Improvements in both system performance and image quality resulted from the strong working partnership of this Rhode Island-based, government-industry team of experts. Tested at sea, the system's optimized sonars captured images of the ocean floor with enough clarity to see the contents of lobster pots.
"Together with NUWC, we've applied our collective expertise to enhance this critical undersea warfare technology – and we've achieved outstanding results," said Paul Ferraro, vice president of Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems' Seapower Capability Systems. "Building on the system's proven performance, we've increased its ability to go further and see objects more clearly – critical abilities for the Navy's mine warfare mission."
AN/AQS-20A is the only mine-hunting sonar currently in production for the U.S. Navy and the only system certified for deployment from the Navy's Littoral Combat Ships, as the primary sensor for mine countermeasure missions. The system demonstrated solid performance throughout a recent Technical Evaluation, conducted by the Navy, where AN/AQS-20A performed as designed and exceeded reliability and operational availability requirements.
AN/AQS-20A is the most advanced and capable mine warfare sensor system, uniquely providing detection and classification through the integration of multiple sensors. The system is towed undersea to simultaneously scan the water column for anti-shipping mines forward of, to the sides and beneath the vehicle. Sophisticated sonar, electro-optical sensors and high-precision location information are used to provide high-resolution images of mines and mine-like objects.
End-to-End Mine Countermeasure Capability
Raytheon provides both a modern mine-hunting and mine-neutralization capability to the U.S. Navy. Supporting mine-clearing operations in both deep-ocean and littoral waters, AN/AQS-20A detects, localizes bottom, close-tethered and volume mines, and identifies bottom mines. The AN/ASQ-235 Airborne Mine Neutralization System reacquires and neutralizes mines found by the AN/AQS-20A. AMNS consists of a helicopter-deployed launch and handling system equipped with four unmanned Archerfish™ neutralizer vehicles, which destroy mines via remote control from the operator in the MH-60S helicopter.
The advanced technologies of these systems deliver a comprehensive, end-to-end solution – detection to neutralization – enabling the Navy to safely and effectively execute its mission, with reduced risk to its ships and crews, ensuring safe access and passage for military and civilian vessels on the world's oceans and waterways.