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Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV)

 
Description
The Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV) is a long endurance, semi-autonomous, diesel-powered, all-aluminum, planning surface craft that supports the employment of various MCM payloads.

Core capabilities of the MCM USV craft include propulsion, power generation, communications to/from the host ship, radar, optical cameras, navigation and a modular payload system. The MCM USV is capable of being launched and recovered by the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), from other Vessels of Opportunity or from shore sites.

When configured for minesweeping operations, the craft will employ the Influence Sweep System. When configured for minehunting operations, the craft will employ the AN/AQS-20 Minehunting Sonar System (MSS). The specific configuration for a given mission will be determined by the needs of the operational commander. Future payloads for the MCM USV are planned to include a Mine Neutralizer as part of the MCM detect-to-engage sequence.
 
Features
For minesweeping operations, the MCM USV employs the Influence Sweep System (ISS), which is designed for sweeping of magnetic, acoustic and magnetic/acoustic combination mine-types. The ISS, when employed by the USV produces acoustic and electro-magnetic influence fields in order to trigger mines. The ISS includes a power system, magnetic field generator and the modified MK-104 Acoustic Generator for acoustic sweep.

For minehunting operations, the MCM USV will employ the MSS for detection, identification, classification and localization of volume and bottom mine-like contacts. When towed, the MSS, which consists of two Side Looking Sonars, a Gap Filler Sonar and Ahead Looking Sonar, provides simultaneous detection, localization and classification of bottom mines, close-tethered moored mines and volume moored mines. The MSS is equipped with an Electro-Optic Identification Device for identification of bottom mines. The towed sonar sensor is deployed via a winch system from the MCM USV craft and operates in either an altitude- or depth-following mode. The MSS has four modes of operation:

1. Single Pass Shallow Mode - Bottom and moored mine coverage in a single pass
2. Single Pass Deep Mode - Moored mine coverage in deep water
3. Volume Mine Mode - Volume mine coverage at four times the area search rate
4. Identification Mode - Bottom and moored mine coverage in a single pass plus optical imaging of bottom mines.

This combination of sonars enables the MSS to detect and classify mine-like objects from the seafloor to the near surface in a single pass. The system also has an identification capability that delivers high-definition images of bottom mines providing the operator with both range and contrast data that combine to form a three-dimensional image during post-mission analysis to aid in mine identification.

The MSS computer processing power, advanced signal processing and portability reduce the amount of time required to search an area, while significantly increasing search-rate agility. The MSS has been extensively tested and operated from the Remote Multi Mission Vehicle (RMMV) and is undergoing evaluation/testing for integration into the MCM USV. The MSS has more than 3,000 hours testing at sea with more than 600 hours of testing towed from the RMMV.
 
Background
Sea mines pose a significant threat to U.S., allied and commercial shipping, particularly in navigation choke points and transit lanes. With the ISS payload installed, MCM USV will satisfy the U.S. Navy's need for a long duration, organic (off-board) minesweeping capability. The use of USVs also increases the safety factor for the Sailors employing the systems by taking them out of the mine field. The MCM USV and Influence Sweep System will provide high area coverage rate in a small, lightweight package with minimal impact on the host platform. Operations will be conducted in Q-routes, straits, choke points, fleet operating areas and amphibious objective areas. The MCM USV, coupled with the AN/AQS-20 Sonar, will satisfy the U.S. Navy's need for an organic (off-board) surface ship mine reconnaissance capability, designed to conduct rapid reconnaissance of bottom and moored mines from the deep-water region to the very shallow water region and determine the presence of mines and safe routes or operating areas around potential minefields.
 
Point Of Contact
Office of Corporate Communication (SEA 00D)
Naval Sea Systems Command
Washington, D.C. 20376
 
General Characteristics, Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle - (MCM USV)
Contractor: Textron Systems, Hunt Valley, Maryland.
Date Deployed: Contractor testing in progress, followed by Navy developmental and operational testing.
 
General Characteristics, Influence Sweep System
Contractor: Textron Systems, Hunt Valley, Maryland.
Date Deployed: Contractor testing in progress, followed by Navy developmental and operational testing.
 
General Characteristics, AN/AQS-20 Minehunting Sonar System
Contractor: Raytheon - Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
Date Deployed: Completed Technical Evaluation (TECHEVAL) with the LCS MCM MP in September 2015. Twenty LRIPs delivered. Competitive production contract awarded February 2014 for up to 27 units across 5 years.
 
Last Update: 17 October 2017