munitions, designated GBU- 61, to
neutralize buried mines using data
from COBRA, she said.
The 2,000-pound GBU- 61 will
disperse a shower of dart penetrators, designed to pierce the mine
casing and kill the weapon. That
system is in early development,
working toward a critical design
review in 2014.
Among the current programs
that could contribute to the amphibious MCM mission is the Mk18
family of unmanned underwater vehicles, including the Kingfish, made
by Hydroid Inc., said Robert Simmons, assistant program manager
for Underwater Explosive Ordnance Demolition.
The Mod 1 Kingfish is a small,
torpedo-like vehicle, guided by the
Global Positioning System and a
WiFi connection that can operate
into very shallow water using side-scan sonar to search for sea mines,
Kingfish can be launched from a
rigid-hull inflatable boat or pier
and, when recovered, its data is
uploaded for analysis, he said. Weighing about 100
pounds, it is man-portable and has an eight- to 10-
hour mission duration, he said. An early model was
used to help clear the Umm Qasr harbor during
Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Mk18 Mod 2 Kingfish is a larger UUV that
breaks into four modules for easier transport. It has an
18- to 20-hour duration surveying for mines in the
shallow or very shallow water, Simmons said.
Three Mod 2s are part of the beefed up MCM capability in the Persian Gulf, with a fourth planned, he said.
NAVSEA also is working on upgrades to the Mod 2
that would provide synthetic aperture or forward-looking
sonars for additional capabilities.
A similar system is the Knifefish, or Surface Mine
Countermeasures Unmanned Underwater Vehicle,
being developed by General Dynamics Advanced
Information Systems and Battelle’s Bluefin Robotics.
It is a 21-inch-diameter, 20-foot-long UUV weighing
about 2,000 pounds, said Capt. Duane Ashton, program
manager for Unmanned Maritime Systems at NAVSEA.
Using a side-scanning sonar, it is designed for mine
hunting in a high clutter environment, such as a harbor, and while primarily for deeper waters it can operate in very shallow water, Ashton said.
A civilian contractor steadies an Mk18 Mod 2 Kingfish unmanned underwater
vehicle (UUV) as it is lifted with a crane onto the deck of an 11-meter rigid-hull
inflatable boat Aug. 27 in the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of responsibility (AOR). The
Kingfish uses side-scan sonar to search and discover objects of interest and
has been added to mine countermeasure operations in the Fifth Fleet AOR.
Another current MCM system intended for deeper
waters as part of the LCS mission package is the
Remote Minehunting System, which consists of the
WLD- 1 Remote Multimission Vehicle (RMMV) and
the AQS- 20 sonar it tows.
The RMMV is a diesel-powered unmanned surface
vehicle, produced by Lockheed Martin. The AQS- 20, by
Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, uses a variable-depth sonar and an electro-optic camera to detect, classify and localize mines on the bottom or tethered.
If the AQS- 20 is hooked underneath the RMMV, instead
of towed, it can operate into very shallow water but not
into the surf zone, said Steve Lose, RMS Program Manager.
Although the RMS was approaching a production
decision in 2005, the program has been set back due to
a Nunn-McCurdy breach on unit cost. Under the Nunn-McCurdy Amendment, the Department of Defense is
required to notify Congress if a program’s cost per unit
grows more than 15 percent beyond what was originally
estimated, and calls for the termination of programs
with total cost growth greater than 25 percent.
Lose now hopes for an LRIP decision in 2014.
To neutralize located mines without endangering ships
or personnel, NAVSEA is developing the Unmanned
Influence Sweep System, an electronic package towed by
24 SEAPOWER / APRIL 2013