Intelligence program

On 30 December 2019 the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) ordered the Archange airborne strategic intelligence program, comprising three Dassault Aviation Falcon 8X aircraft equipped with the Thales new-generation payload CUGE (universal electronic warfare capability). A contract has been awarded for the first two aircraft.

The Falcon 8X Archange to serve the French Air Force

Dassault Aviation and the dozens of French companies associated with the Falcon programs wish to thank the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the DGA and the French Air Force for their confidence.

The required level of performance of the Archange Falcons necessitates highly complex integration work, something that is at the core of Dassault Aviation and Thales know-how.

«I am very proud and happy with the decision of the Ministry of the Armed Forces. The Archange Falcon will serve the French forces in the same way as the Falcons 10, 200, 50, 2000, 900 and 7X are already doing it», declared Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. «The special mission Falcons provide the perfect illustration of the dual competences of Dassault Aviation: our civil aircraft benefit from the cutting-edge technologies developed for our combat aircraft, which in return benefit from the industrial processes deployed for the highly competitive production of the Falcon aircraft».

The tri-jet Falcon 8X is the latest addition to the Falcon range. The business jet version can carry 8 passengers and 3 crew members over a distance of 6,450 NM/7,456 miles/12,000 km. It has digital flight controls which stem directly from Dassault Aviation’s experience acquired with the Mirage 2000 and Rafale. It is equipped with enhanced avionics system (EASY) digital flight deck and the totally unrivalled FalconEye combined vision system (CVS).

Exported to more than 90 countries, the Falcon aircraft are flexible and economic to fly. Their handling qualities, aerodynamics and versatility render them capable of fulfilling missions that go beyond civil aviation standards. They are designed by the design office that also develops the Rafale and nEUROn combat aircraft. Over the last 50 years, Dassault Aviation has customized many Falcons for purposes such as medical evacuation, cargo transport, maritime surveillance, electronic warfare, etc. These multirole aircraft represent about 10% of the Falcon fleet in service across the world.

SPOC radio

Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a contract to develop and demonstrate a Software Programmable Open Mission Systems (OMS) Compliant (SPOC) radio terminal for the U.S. Air Force.

Northrop Grumman will deliver an open mission systems-compliant software programmable radio terminal to the U.S. Air Force, unlocking new possibilities for the service’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS)

Northrop Grumman’s SPOC solution will provide the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) with an air-to-ground and air-to-air communications capability across four radio frequency waveforms: Link-16 Concurrent Multi-Net-4 (CMN-4), Common Data Link (CDL), Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) and Multi User Objective System (MUOS).

This development defines the Air Force’s next generation radio approach.

«Our solution for SPOC provides a mature hardware and software development kit that allows the Air Force to rapidly develop and prototype innovative communications solutions from any provider on an open architecture networking terminal that can be quickly taken into flight test and production», said Roshan Roeder, vice president, communications, airborne sensors and networks division, Northrop Grumman. «With the Air Force taking responsibility for developing the airborne communications network infrastructure for the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), SPOC radio will allow the Air Force to rapidly develop, test, fly and iterate».

Northrop Grumman’s SPOC open architecture networking terminal offers numerous benefits to the Air Force customer, including opening the F-35 Communications, Navigation and Identification (CNI) system to third-party developers, ownership of Link-16 development, sharing of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information over a common data link, and Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) beyond line of sight capability.

Arrested Landing

The developmental Light Combat Aircraft (Navy) MK1 achieved an important milestone on 11 January 2020 with the successful Arrested Landing on board the naval aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. The aircraft was piloted by Commodore JA Maolankar who also undertook the maiden Ski Jump Take-Off from the carrier on 12 January 2020.

The Developmental Naval LCA Achieves Major Technological Milestone

A Technology Demonstrator, LCA (Navy) has earlier been successfully tested during extensive trials at the Shore Base Test Facility at the Naval Air Station (NAS) at Goa.

With the completion of this feat, the indigenously developed niche technologies specific to deck based fighter operations have been proven which will now pave the way to develop and manufacture the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter for the Indian Navy, which is expected to proudly fly from the aircraft carriers by the year 2026.

This landmark event demonstrates the professional commitment and synergy between various agencies including Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Centre for Military Airworthiness & Certification (CEMILAC) and Indian Navy in harnessing the potential of our scientists, engineers and naval flight testing community towards meeting the expectations of the nation.

This is how the developmental LCA (N) MK1 made the Maiden Arrested Landing on board the Aircraft Carrier

 

Maiden landing of DRDO-developed LCA Navy onboard INS Vikramaditya

Keel Laid

The keel of the future USS John Basilone (DDG-122) was ceremoniously laid at General Dynamics (GD) Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard, January 10.

Keel Laid for Future USS John Basilone (DDG-122)

Speakers at the ceremony included Captain Seth Miller, DDG-51 class program manager, Diane Hawkins, niece of the ship’s namesake, and the ship’s sponsors, Amy Looney and Ryan Manion.

The ship’s sponsors authenticated the keel by etching their initials into the keel plate, a tradition that symbolically recognizes the joining ofmodular components and the ceremonial beginning of the ship.

«It’s an honor to celebrate this milestone with Ms. Looney, Ms. Manion, and members of the Basilone family», said Miller. «Laying the keel for our nation’s 72nd Arleigh Burke destroyer, and building a ship named for a man who embodied the spirit of commitment and strength, this is a truly special occasion».

The ship’s namesake was a United States Marine Corps gunnery sergeant who was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in WWII. Basilone received the Medal of Honor for heroism displayed in the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942, and for conspicuous gallantry displayed in the Battle of Iwo Jima, after he single-handedly destroyed an enemy blockhouse and led a Marine tank under fire safely through a minefield.

Arleigh Burke class destroyers are multi-mission surface combatants that serve as integral assets in global maritime security, engaging in air, undersea, surface, strike and ballistic missile defense, as well as providing increased capabilities in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Command and Control (C2), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW).

As a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the USS John Basilone (DDG-122) will employ the Aegis Baseline 9 Combat System, which includes Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) capability, delivers quick reaction time, high firepower, and has increased electronic countermeasures capability for Anti-Air Warfare (AAW).

In addition to the USS John Basilone (DDG-122), BIW has four additional Arleigh Burke class destroyers under construction – USS Daniel Inouye (DDG-118), USS Carl M. Levin (DDG-120), USS Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG-124) and USS Patrick Gallagher (DDG-127), as well as the Zumwalt class destroyer USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002). BIW is under contract for an additional six Arleigh Burke class destroyers that will all be constructed in the Flight III configuration with enhanced Air and Missile Defense (AMD) capabilities.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, boats and craft.

 

CHARACTERISTICS

Length Overall 510 feet/156 m
Beam – Waterline 59 feet/18 m
Draft 30.5 feet/9.3 m
Displacement – Full Load 9,217 tons/9,363 metric tons
Power Plant 4 General electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; 2 shafts; 2 CRP (Contra-Rotating) propellers; 100,000 shaft horsepower/75,000 kW
Speed in excess of 30 knots/34.5 mph/55.5 km/h
Range 4,400 NM/8,149 km at 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h
Crew 380 total: 32 Officers, 27 CPO (Chief Petty Officer), 321 OEM
Surveillance SPY-1D Phased Array Radar (Lockheed Martin)/AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar (Raytheon Company) and Aegis Combat System (Lockheed Martin); SPS-73(V) Navigation; SPS-67(V)3 Surface Search; 3 SPG-62 Illuminator; SQQ-89(V)6 sonar incorporating SQS-53C hull mounted and SQR-19 towed array sonars used with Mark-116 Mod 7 ASW fire control system
Electronics/Countermeasures SLQ-32(V)3; Mark-53 Mod 0 Decoy System; Mark-234 Decoy System; SLQ-25A Torpedo Decoy; SLQ-39 Surface Decoy; URN-25 TACAN; UPX-29 IFF System; Kollmorgen Mark-46 Mod 1 Electro-Optical Director
Aircraft 2 embarked SH-60 helicopters ASW operations; RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure and Traverse)
Armament 2 Mark-41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) with 96 Standard, Vertical Launch ASROC (Anti-Submarine Rocket) & Tomahawk ASM (Air-to-Surface Missile)/LAM (Loitering Attack Missile); 5-in (127-mm)/54 (62) Mark-45 gun; 2 (1) CIWS (Close-In Weapon System); 2 Mark-32 triple 324-mm torpedo tubes for Mark-46 or Mark-50 ASW torpedos

 

GUIDED MISSILE DESTROYERS LINEUP

 

Flight IIA: Technology Insertion

Ship Yard Launched Commissioned Homeport
DDG-116 Thomas Hudner GDBIW 04-23-17 12-01-18 Mayport, Florida
DDG-117 Paul Ignatius HIIIS 11-12-16 07-27-19 Mayport, Florida
DDG-118 Daniel Inouye GDBIW 10-27-19 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
DDG-119 Delbert D. Black HIIIS 09-08-17
DDG-120 Carl M. Levin GDBIW
DDG-121 Frank E. Peterson Jr. HIIIS 07-13-18
DDG-122 John Basilone GDBIW
DDG-123 Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee HIIIS
DDG-124 Harvey C. Barnum Jr. GDBIW
DDG-127 Patrick Gallagher GDBIW

 

STOVL Aircraft

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Singapore of up to twelve (12) F-35B Lightning II Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2.750 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on January 9, 2020.

US Approves $2.7Bn Sale of 12 Lockheed F-35Bs to Singapore

The Government of Singapore has requested to buy up to twelve (12) F-35B Lightning II Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft (four (4) F-35B Lightning II STOVL aircraft with the option to purchase an additional eight (8) F-35B Lightning II STOVL aircraft); and up to thirteen (13) Pratt and Whitney F135 Engines (includes 1 initial spare). Also included are Electronic Warfare Systems; Command, Control, Communication, Computers and Intelligence/Communication, Navigation and Identification (C4I/CNI) system; Autonomic Logistics Global Support System (ALGS); Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); F-35 Training System; Weapons Employment Capability and other Subsystems, Features and Capabilities; F-35 unique infrared flares; reprogramming center access and F-35 Performance Based Logistics; software development/integration; aircraft transport from Ft. Worth, TX to the CONUS initial training base and tanker support (if necessary); spare and repair parts; support equipment, tools and test equipment; technical data and publications; personnel training and training equipment; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistics support. The total estimated cost is $2.750 billion.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States. Singapore is a strategic friend and Major Security Cooperation Partner and an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia Pacific region.

This proposed sale of F-35s will augment Singapore’s operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability, adding to an effective deterrence to defend its borders and contribute to coalition operations with other allied and partner forces. Singapore will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this aircraft and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The prime contractors will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth, Texas, and Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Connecticut. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Singapore.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Length 51.2 feet/15.6 m
Height 14.3 feet/4.36 m
Wingspan 35 feet/10.7 m
Wing area 460 feet2/42.7 m2
Horizontal tail span 21.8 feet/6.65 m
Weight empty 32,300 lbs/14,651 kg
Internal fuel capacity 13,500 lbs/6,125 kg
Weapons payload 15,000 lbs/6,800 kg
Maximum weight 60,000 lbs class/27,215 kg
Standard internal weapons load Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles
Two 2,000-pound/907 kg GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs
Propulsion (uninstalled thrust ratings) F135-PW-600
Maximum Power (with afterburner) 41,000 lbs/182,4 kN/18,597 kgf
Military Power (without afterburner) 27,000 lbs/120,1 kN/12,247 kgf
Short Take Off Thrust 40,740 lbs/181,2 kN/18,479 kgf
Hover Thrust 40,650 lbs/180,8 kN/18,438 kgf
Main Engine 18,680 lbs/83,1 kN/8,473 kgf
Lift Fan 18,680 lbs/83,1 kN/8,473 kgf
Roll Post 3,290 lbs/14,6 kN/1,492 kgf
Main Engine Length 369 inch/9.37 m
Main Engine Inlet Diameter 43 inch/1.09 m
Main Engine Maximum Diameter 46 inch/1.17 m
Lift Fan Inlet Diameter 51 inch/1,30 m
Lift Fan Maximum Diameter 53 inch/1,34 m
Conventional Bypass Ratio 0.57
Powered Lift Bypass Ratio 0.51
Conventional Overall Pressure Ratio 28
Powered Lift Overall Pressure Ratio 29
Speed (full internal weapons load) Mach 1.6 (~1,043 knots/1,200 mph/1,931 km/h)
Combat radius (internal fuel) >450 NM/517.6 miles/833 km
Range (internal fuel) >900 NM/1,036 miles/1,667 km
Max g-rating 7.0
Planned Quantities
U.S. Marine Corps 340
U.K. Royal Air Force/Royal Navy 138
Italy 30
In total 508

 

Guardian

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) concluded a series of flight demonstrations using its MQ-9 Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) on December 19, 2019. The demonstrations showcased the maritime surveillance capabilities of the MQ-9, and the GA-ASI-developed Detect and Avoid (DAA) system for traffic-deconfliction in civil airspace. The flights were sponsored by the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) and the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) and staged out of Larissa Air Base in Greece. The flights were performed for an audience of European military and civilian representatives.

GA-ASI Concludes Successful Series of MQ-9 Demonstrations in Greece

«We were honored to have the HAF’s and the HCG’s support for these flight demonstrations with our MQ-9», said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. «The MQ-9 RPAS is already a strategic asset for NATO countries, providing mission persistence and interoperability between allies. We showcased MQ-9s maritime surveillance and the civil airspace integration capabilities for our European customers». The MQ-9 configuration demonstrated is operational in the U.S.

Currently GA-ASI aircraft systems support the Italian Air Force, the UK Royal Air Force, the French Air Force, and the Spanish Air Force. The Ministry of Defence for the Netherlands has selected MQ-9 for the Royal Netherlands Air Force, and the Government of Belgium has approved Belgian Defense to negotiate the acquisition of GA-ASI’s MQ-9B. In early December, the Australian Government announced selection of MQ-9B for the Australian Defence Force under Project Air 7003. GA-ASI RPAS are operated by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and NASA.

«The advanced capabilities of these aircraft are striking. Through the 10 days of demonstrations, the country of Greece has seen the value of MQ-9’s for maritime patrol and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) monitoring, border surveillance, support for search and rescue efforts, and over-watch of forest fire response efforts», said an HAF official.

The DAA system consists of an air-to-air radar integrated with Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II), and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). The DAA system enables safe flight of an MQ-9 in civil airspace, and can even detect air traffic that is not actively transmitting its position.

The MQ-9 also demonstrated a multi-mode, maritime surface-search radar, and High-Definition/Full-Motion Video Optical and Infrared sensor. This sensor suite enables real-time detection and identification of large and small surface vessels in all-weather at long ranges, 360 degrees around the aircraft. The featured Raytheon SeaVue surface-search radar provided continuous tracking of maritime targets and correlation of Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmitters with radar detections. The Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) mode facilitates classification of vessels which are beyond optical sensor range.

For the demonstration, GA-ASI partnered with SES, a leading satellite communications (SATCOM) operator and managed services provider, with over 70 satellites in Geostationary Orbit (GEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). SES provided the GEO satellite connectivity that enabled the MQ-9 to operate securely with a high capacity datalink, enabling real-time transmission of sensor data from the aircraft, and extending its effective operational range far beyond that of «line-of-sight» datalinks.

«With our global satellite fleet, SES has been supporting the critical needs of GA-ASI and their government customers who have operated these aircraft for close to two decades», said Nicole Robinson, Senior Vice President, Global Government at SES Networks. «We were proud to support this demonstration effort for the Hellenic Air Force as part of our long-standing relationship with General Atomics».

Core stage

Boeing on January 8, 2020 delivered the core stage of NASA’s first Space Launch System (SLS) deep space exploration rocket, moving it out of the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to the agency’s Pegasus barge.

The Boeing-built core stage of NASA’s first Space Launch System (SLS) deep space exploration rocket arrives at the agency’s Pegasus barge on January 8 after rolling out of the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans (Boeing photo)

The event marks the first time a completed rocket stage has shipped out of Michoud since the end of the Apollo program. SLS Core Stage 1 is the largest single rocket stage ever built by NASA and its industry partners.

The rollout follows several weeks of final testing and check-outs after NASA’s declaration of «core stage complete» during a December 9 Artemis Day celebration at Michoud.

NASA will transport the SLS core stage to its Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, in the next few days for «Green Run» hot-fire engine tests later this year. After inspection and refurbishing for launch, the stage moves to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At Kennedy, the core stage will be integrated with the Interim Cryogenic Upper Stage (ICPS) and NASA’s Orion spacecraft for the uncrewed Artemis I mission around the moon – the first launch of a human-rated spacecraft to the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972.

«The Boeing SLS team has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with NASA and our supplier partners to face multiple challenges with ingenuity and perseverance, while keeping safety and quality at the forefront», said John Shannon, Boeing SLS vice president and program manager.

SLS is the world’s most powerful rocket, evolvable and built to carry astronauts and cargo farther and faster than any rocket in history. Its unmatched capabilities will deliver human-rated spacecraft, habitats and science missions to the moon, Mars and beyond as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

«We are applying what we’ve learned from development of the first core stage to accelerate work on core stages 2 and 3, already in production at Michoud, as well as the Exploration Upper Stage that will power NASA’s most ambitious Artemis missions», said Shannon.

Systems Testing

The Air Force’s newest combat rescue helicopter was suspended in a soundproof chamber at the Joint Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems (J-PRIMES) facility in mid-November for defense system testing.

A 413th Flight Test Squadron HH-60W Whiskey hangs in the anechoic chamber at the Joint Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems hangar at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Florida, January 6, 2020. The J-PRIMES anechoic chamber is a room designed to stop internal reflections of electromagnetic waves, as well as insulate from external sources of electromagnetic noise to facilitate testing air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions and electronics systems on full-scale aircraft and land vehicles before open air testing (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

The 413th Flight Test Squadron’s HH-60W Whiskey spent approximately seven weeks testing the defensive systems upgrades from the legacy HH-60G Pave Hawk currently flown by Air Combat Command (ACC).

The J-PRIMES facility has the unique capability to capture high quality data on defensive systems by isolating the electromagnetic radiation inside the facility’s anechoic chamber. The chamber is a room designed to stop reflections of sound or electromagnetic waves and is insulated from external noise.

Testing the HH-60W Whiskey in J-PRIMES will characterize the performance of the helicopter’s systems before electronic warfare flight-testing. The tests ensure it is capable of defeating hostile threats while performing its designated combat Search and Rescue (SAR) mission.

The new aircraft arrived at the 96th Test Wing in early November. The Air Force is contracted to purchase 113 HH-60W Whiskey aircraft to replace its aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters.

The J-PRIMES facility hosts similar test missions throughout the year. The facility provides an environment to facilitate testing air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions and electronics systems on full-scale aircraft and land vehicles before open air testing.

The J-PRIMES test data will be used to support specification compliance and check for defensive system discrepancies or concerns.

This is an early, but critical step in the developmental process of the new HH-60W Whiskey. After J-PRIMES testing, this particular aircraft will begin flight test for its defensive systems.

«Developmental test has begun in earnest», said Joe Whiteaker, the squadron’s combat rescue helicopter flight commander. «Every new event brings us closer to getting this aircraft to the warfighter, which is what we are really focused on».

SPIKE LR missile

BAE Systems has successfully fired an integrated, long-range anti-tank guided missile from the CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) in a recent series of tests.

BAE Systems’ CV90 increases lethality by testing SPIKE LR anti-tank guided missile

This advancement further diversifies the CV90’s operational capabilities on the battlefield by enabling indirect fire at long distances or at air targets, boosting the vehicle’s lethality while increasing crew safety.

The testing, which took place in difficult arctic conditions, used a Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ Spike-LR (long range) missile mounted on a BAE Systems Hägglunds’ CV90 to defeat a target at more than 2,000 metres/6,562 feet. The exercise marks the first time an integrated version of an anti-tank guided missile has been launched from the CV90. It also demonstrates the platform’s versatility to perform a wide range of missions, and shows the CV90 can easily adapt to new technologies for meeting current and future customer needs.

«This integrated anti-tank capability confirms that the CV90 is a true benchmark when it comes to expanding a family of multi-mission armoured fighting vehicles», said Dan Lindell, CV90 platform director at BAE Systems Hägglunds. «This new capability can alter the battlefield dynamic and is yet another example of how the CV90’s already superior mobility and survivability allows the warfighter to pack an even heavier punch in any terrain or weather conditions, and at any time on any battlefield».

The December testing took place in northern Sweden in below freezing temperatures with heavy snowfall and low visibility.

«We fully appreciate Rafael and their Spike team for working with us to demonstrate this important capability and look forward to continuing our collaboration to provide present and future customers with this powerful addition to the CV90’s lethality suite», Lindell said.

The long-range missile testing is yet another recent example of improved lethality on the CV90. BAE Systems is currently executing a Swedish government contract to provide a mortar variant of the CV90 called Mjölner that adds greater mobility to close indirect fire support.

More than 1,200 CV90s of numerous variants are in service with Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The vehicle has a combat-proven track record and is designed to accommodate future growth to meet evolving missions.

In-Water Testing

Northrop Grumman Corporation’s AQS-24 mine hunting sonar recently completed initial in-water testing of a next-generation Deploy and Retrieval (D&R) payload. Operated from the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vessel (MCM USV), the AQS-24 D&R demonstrated the unmanned operations needed to perform a mine hunting mission off the MCM Mission Package aboard the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).

The AQS-24B minehunter being deployed from the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vessel (MCM USV)

«Achieving this important milestone demonstrated reliable unmanned mine hunting operations, while using operationally representative hardware from the LCS MCM Mission Module», said Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman. «This allows the program to begin preparation for further at-sea testing of the system for extended duration missions in rigorous conditions».

The MCM USV tests are ahead of planned user-operated evaluation system testing of the AQS-24 on LCSs. The company has multiple versions of the AQS-24 to provide mine hunting capabilities for navies. The AQS-24B is a deployed system which uses side-scan sonar for real-time detection, localization and classification of bottom and moored mines in addition to a laser line scanner for precise optical identification.

Integration of the AQS-24 sonar with USVs allows for the real-time transmission of all AQS-24 data to a remote sonar operator, who can then commence Real-Time Mission Analysis (RTMA) of all recorded mission data. RTMA significantly reduces MCM detect to engage timelines, as well as the real-time reacquisition and identification of bottom mines following traditional mine hunting sorties.