Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully demonstrated unmanned mine-hunting capabilities using the high-speed AQS-24B sensor during the Belgian Defense Technology & Industry Day trials at the Naval Base at Zeebrugge, Belgium.
This effort, which is a follow-on to the successful operation during Unmanned Warrior in Scotland, in October 2016, demonstrated the high Area Coverage Rate (ACR) achievable through combining the Atlas Elektronik UK ARCIMS Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) and Northrop Grumman’s AQS-24B mine hunting system. The ARCIMS USV has proven to be an extremely stable platform well suited for towing the high-speed AQS-24B in rough seas. The exercise not only demonstrated the modularity and ease of integration of the AQS-24B payload, but also the importance of the laser line scan sensor which serves as a gap filler for the high speed synthetic aperture sonar.
“This exercise further demonstrates that Northrop Grumman’s unmanned surface vessel MCM capabilities are well advanced,” said Andrew Tyler, Chief Executive, Northrop Grumman Europe. “Our collaborative approach is helping to position us to serve a leading role in the emerging underwater sensing and networking environment.”
“Our team’s demonstration at Belgium North Sea Unmanned MCM Trials proves that unmanned systems combined with the right payloads can perform high-speed mine countermeasures tasks, greatly reducing the mine clearance timeline while keeping naval personnel out of harm’s way," said Alan Lytle, Vice President, Undersea Systems, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. “The ARCIMS - AQS-24B combination provides a highly effective and affordable mine countermeasure solution for our allies and theatre security partners.”
“Atlas Elektronik UK and Northrop Grumman are leading the way in demonstrating a capability that is real, mature and tested in relevant operational environments in the North Atlantic at the Royal Navy's unmanned warrior and now in the North Sea at the Belgian Navy's Zeebrugge sea areas,” said John Sutcliffe, Director Business Development. “We, at AEUK, are excited about the future for unmanned systems and the potential that it offers for affordable and highly effective maritime capability.”