“We’ve had the output of the first study that shows
very promising results to bring AMNS to address the
surface/near surface mine threat,” Ailes said. “Could
we get commonality with AMNS in all of the depth of
the water column? The path we’re looking at is to fully
expand the envelope of AMNS in a future increment.”
Another MCM module, flown in the MQ-8B Fire
Scout unmanned aerial vehicle, is the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis system, an electro-optical/infrared sensor turret designed by Northrop
“It’s been pretty successful,” Ailes said. “It’s already
met its operational evaluation, including all its perform-
ance requirements, and we did a single demonstration
flight of it on the Fire Scout. We’ll be testing it over at
least the next year.”
Unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) are used in the
MCM package to deploy mine-hunting systems.
Oregon Iron Works built two MCM USVs — designed
by the Combatant Craft Division of the Naval Surface
Warfare Center, Carderock, Md. — which are being
used to prove the Unmanned Surface Sweep System, a
wide-area unmanned magnetic and acoustic influence
minesweeping system developed by the Office of Naval
Research. The Navy is planning a fiscal 2014 procure-
ment of an engineering development model for a USV,
followed by low-rate production in 2015.
The builder of the follow-on USVs is not yet determined. The Surface Sweep System currently is in
The Surface Mine-Countermeasures Unmanned
Undersea Vehicle is a torpedo-shaped vehicle designed
to detect, classify and identify mines during a single
sweep of an ocean area.
“It’s going to use low-frequency broadband synthetic-aperture sonar designed to find mines in high
clutter,” Ailes said. “We’re anticipating a contract award
The ASW mission package is not scheduled to reach
initial operational capability until 2016, as it has gone
through the most changes of the three mission packages. Only one ASW package has been delivered so far.
The fleet has a requirement for 16.
General Dynamics built two 11-meter ASW USVs
for the mission package, designed to tow acoustic sensors and deploy them away from the LCS as an off-board system, keeping the ship out of harm’s way of a
submarine. The concept proved problematic.
“Basically, the ship had to stop and put the USV in
the water,” Ailes said. “After analysis, the Navy decided
that a more in-stride capability would significantly
contribute to our ASW capabilities.”
Among the Littoral Combat Ship’s airborne mine counter-
measures modules is the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance
and Analysis system, an electro-optical/infrared sensor tur-
ret, shown in the inset, that is flown on the MQ-8B Fire Scout
unmanned aerial vehicle.
The ASW USVs were placed in storage, and the
Navy is testing a variable-depth sonar coupled with a
multifunction towed array — part of the SQQ-89
undersea warfare system — to allow for continuous
active bi-static sonar. The sonar is the Captas 4, built
by Thales Underwater Systems, teamed with DRS
Sonar Systems, and will be delivered in September,
according to a Thales news release.
“The advantage to that one is that you can use it at
speed from the ship without having to put everybody
in the water,” Ailes said.
The Navy also is looking at adding a towed torpedo
decoy system, similar to the Nixie system now used by
The MH-60R Seahawk helicopter, with its Raytheon
AQS-22F dipping sonar, Mk54 torpedoes and sonobuoys
is the aviation component of the ASW package.
Ailes said the estimated cost for procurement of all
three mission packages through 2016 is $1.2 billion.
He added that the Navy is looking at other mission
“There is an irregular warfare mission package that’s
being looked at and we’re trying to define exactly what
its requirements would be,” he said. “Perhaps medical
capability in a module and also other things in support
of expeditionary forces. That discussion is ongoing.”
When not in use, the mission packages will be
stored and maintained at the mission package support
facility in Port Hueneme, Calif. The LCS squadron also
has a small storage facility in San Diego, where the first
LCSs will be based.
“The nice thing about mission packages is they’re
easily transportable — they’re air transportable, by sea,
by rail and by truck,” Ailes said. ■