Surface Forces: February 22, 2000


: The US Navy has seven new mine-countermeasure systems under development:
@ AN/AQS-20 is a pod mounting five different sonars which is towed by a CH-60S helicopter. It can detect mines in water as deep as 600 feet or as shallow as 30 feet. An advanced version of it, the AN/AQS-20X, adds a laser scanner to determine the type of mine. 
@ AN/WLD-1 Remote Minehunting System is a semi-submersible robot boat which tows sonar into waters from 10-40 feet deep. It is linked to the new SQQ-89 fire control system, which destroys the mines detected by the RMS. It will be deployed aboard DDG91 in 2003.
@ AMNS (the Airborne Mine Neutralization System) is a development of the German Sea Fox system. This is a torpedo-shaped device is used to destroy mines detected by other systems. The AMNS uses a fiber-optic-guided sonar and video camera to pinpoint mines at depths up to 600 feet deep, then deploys other weapons to destroy them.
@ ALMDS (Airborne Laser Mine-Detection System) is a laser mounted in a CH-60 helicopter. It should enter service in 2003. The laser can only penetrate the water to the depth of a ship, but produces a video image that could allow a ship's crew to distinguish between a moored mine and floating debris.
@ OASIS (Organic Airborne and Surface Influence System) is a sonar-equipped pod towed on an 800-foot cable by a helicopter flying at 100 feet. More maneuverable than current systems, OASIS is designed to detect influence mines that might be programmed to ignore a certain number of ships or ships of a certain size.
@ RAMICS (Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System) is an advanced technology system that is having difficulties. The theory is that a SH60 helicopter would be fitted with a 20mm cannon that could fire a shell into a mine submerged up to 40 feet deep. When the projectile penetrates the mine, it releases chemicals that cause the mine to explode. The problem is the serious doubt that the shells can penetrate that much water. One option would be to use a 30mm cannon, but this could overload the helicopter with firing stresses.
@ UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles) could be used in a clandestine mode. Deployed and recovered by submarines, they could clear mines without the enemy knowing that they were no longer there. Current stopgap UUVs will be replaced by the Long Term Mine Reconnaissance System by 2005. --Stephen V Cole


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