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Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV)

 
Description
Designated on Oct. 8, 2018 as an ACAT II Program of Record, the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV) is a long endurance, semi-autonomous, diesel-powered, all-aluminum surface craft that supports the employment of various MCM payloads. Leveraging a mature craft design developed under the ACAT III Unmanned Influence Sweeping System (UISS) program, the MCM USV program employs multiple Payload Delivery Systems (PDSs) to include the Minesweeping PDS, Minehunting PDS and PDSs for future payloads, including Mine Neutralization, all of which integrate to the base MCM USV craft.
 
Features
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 (VOO), or from shore sites.

When employed with the Minesweeping PDS, MCM USV supports minesweeping operations. The MCM USV employs the influence sweep system, which is designed for sweeping of magnetic, acoustic, and magnetic/acoustic combination mine-types. Known as the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS), the system tows the modified Mk-104 system acoustic generator and a magnetic minesweeping cable.

When employed with a Minehunting PDS and minehunting payload (e.g., surface towed sonar), MCM USV will support minehunting operations, including detection, identification, classification and localization of volume and bottom mine-like contacts.

The AN/AQS-20C sonar consists of two side looking sonars, a gap filler sonar, and a forward looking sonar, provides simultaneous detection, localization and classification of bottom mines, close-tethered moored mines and volume moored mines. The towed sonar 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, and operates in either an altitude- or depth-following mode.

This combination of sonars enables the system 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 AN/AQS-24B towed sonar is a rapidly deployable sonar system that provides acoustic images for detection, classification and localization of bottom and moored mines. The AQS-24 equipment includes an actively-controlled towed body, an electromechanical tow cable and signal processing and recording electronics. The towed body contains a synthetic aperture side scan, multi-beam sonar that provides a wide range of focused acoustic signals. An optional laser line scan section can be attached to provide optical target identification.

The sonars' computer processing power, advanced signal processing and portability reduce the amount of time required to search an area, while significantly increasing search-rate agility. Post sortie, operators onboard LCS, a VOO, or ashore will process data from the vehicle sortie to identify locations of mines or mine-like objects. The towed sonars are undergoing evaluation/testing for integration onto the MCM USV.

When employed with Mine Neutralization PDS, MCM USV will verify the autonomous identification of mines, followed by operator-directed mine neutralization The Mine Neutralization PDS plans to integrate the Barracuda system from the MCM USV.

For command and control (C2), MCM USV is interoperable with the LCS MCM Mission Package (MP) C2 suite via the Multiple Vehicle Communications System (MVCS), and with VOO or from shore via the Mission Package Portable Computing System (MPPCS) with Line-Of-Sight communication systems.
 
Background
Sea mines pose a significant threat to U.S., allied and commercial shipping, particularly in navigation choke points and transit lanes. With the sweep 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, coupled with the towed 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 completed in FY18, Navy Developmental Test in progress, followed by Operational Assessment with Minesweeping PDS scheduled for Q2FY19.
 
General Characteristics, Influence Sweep System
Contractor: Textron Systems, Hunt Valley, Maryland.
Date Deployed: Contractor Testing completed in FY18, Navy Developmental Test in progress, followed by Operational Assessment scheduled for Q2FY19.
 
General Characteristics, AN/AQS-20 Minehunting Sonar System
Contractor: Raytheon - Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
Date Deployed: AN/AQS-20C production systems (10 total) started delivery in September 2018. Navy Development Testing is currently in progress.
 
General Characteristics, AN/AQS-24 Minehunting Sonar System
Contractor: Northrop Grumman Corporation - Annapolis, Maryland
Date Deployed: In Service (27 total), towed from MH-53s and MHUs.
 
Last Update: 2 January 2019