Raytheon Receives $55M to Put New Mine Detection Sonar Into Production
In a September 2005 article, DID referred in passing to several recent advances in US mine detection technologies, including a new AQS-20A mine detecting sonar array, and airborne laser systems mounted to MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopters. All of this is in the service of the USA’s new naval emphasis on littoral warfare and accompanying doctrinal changes.
So, what’s the AN/AQS-20? And how is it also related to a new US ship class, not to mention a new undersea robot?
The AN/AQS-20A is towed undersea to scan the water in front and to the sides of the vehicle as well as the sea bottom. The system uses sonar and electro-optical sensors to provide high-resolution images of mine-like objects and high-precision location information, and can operate in shallow or deep waters. This task is especially important in littoral and shallow-water zones, including critical global trade chokepoints like the Straits of Malacca, the Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and Panama Canal regions, et. al.
The U.S. Navy Program Executive Office for Littoral and Mine Warfare is acquiring the AN/AQS-20A mine detecting sonar as a component of the MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter’s new Organic Airborne Mine Counter-Measures (AMCM) systems that will support America’s Carrier Strike Groups and Expeditionary Strike Groups.
It is also a critical important of the new Littoral Combat Ship’s mine warfare mission module. The new ships will operate MH-60S helicopters, and can take on an MH-60S AMCM helicopter as part of the MIW mine warfare mission module.
The sonar can also be attached to the AN/WLD-1 semi-submersible autonomous vehicle, which also comes as part of the LCS ship’s swappable mission packages and has been installed in some DDG-51 destroyers as well. This remotely-operated UUV will tow the AN/AQS-20 behind, while using its own maneuvering power and sensors to scan the sea bottom and the water in front and to the sides for anti-shipping mines. Adding the UUV option helps to provide more comprehensive shallow water coverage and puts deep water coverage within reach, without requiring purpose-built minesweeper ships or placing large and expensive ships at risk.
Sept 15/05: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI received an undefinitized firm-fixed-price/ cost-plus fixed-fee letter contract at a not-to-exceed price of $55 million for the Low Rate Initial Production of the AN/AQS-20A Sonar, Mine Detecting Set. Work on the contract will be performed at Raytheon IDS’s Naval Integration Center in Portsmouth, RI (88%) and Arete Associates in Tucson, AZ (12%); and is expected to be complete by March 2010. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC issued the contract (N00024-05-C-6324).