Mine warfare concepts under development underscore the Navy's goal to provide effective, proactive mine countermeasures (MCM) to avoid or eliminate the mine threat during all phases of forward-deployed operations. The application of MCM capabilities throughout the operating forces is fundamental to ensuring that the mine threat can be neutralized. Mine operations will include a synergistic use of intelligence, strategic mapping and surveillance, tactical surveillance and reconnaissance, self-protection initiatives organic to non-MCM forces, and dedicated mine countermeasures forces to clear unavoidable mines and mine fields. As recognized by the Institute for Defense Analysis in late 1997, mining is also a force multiplier in today's and tomorrow's conflict scenarios, and proposals are being addressed to enhance the Navy's mining capabilities. Some of the key programs that support the Navy's mine warfare vision are discussed in this section.
AMNS Airborne Mine Neutralization System
Description: The Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) is an expendable, air-delivered, remotely operated mine neutralization device, capable of providing rapid destruction of bottom and moored mines with little or no risk to helicopters. AMNS will be used to reacquire and neutralize previously identified targets. The AMNS program is being structured to take advantage of available industrial AMNS concepts to the fullest extent possible.
Program Status: Preliminary review of available AMNS concepts within U.S. and foreign industry is underway in FY 1998. Milestone III is projected for FY 2000.
Developer/Manufacturer: To be determined.
Assault Breaching Programs
Description: The Assault Breaching Programs encompass several projects planned to counter the threat to amphibious forces from known and projected land and naval mines and obstacles in shallow water, very shallow water, and surf zone approaches to amphibious operating areas. It also includes craft landing zones ashore for amphibious assault craft and air-cushioned vehicles. Systems being developed for mine sweeping, explosive clearance, and marking in this challenging environment include the Advanced Lightweight Influence Sweep System (ALISS), Shallow-Water Assault Breaching (SABRE) system, Distributed Explosive Technology (DET), and Breached Lane Navigation System (BLNS).
ALISS is a modular magnetic and acoustic influence system employing critical spark gap arrays and super-conducting magnet technologies. Currently an Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD), the ALISS technology will provide a rapid and efficient ability conduct area clearance in shallow water. SABRE is a rocket-launched explosive line charge launched from a Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicle, designed to clear assault lanes in the 10-foot to three-foot region of the surf zone. DET is a rocket-launched explosive net, also launched from an LCAC, designed to clear the remainder of the lanes in the three-foot to shore region of the surf zone. The Explosive Neutralization (EN) program is a pre-planned product improvement to SABRE and DET. It will provide increased LCAC survivability and system
accuracy through development of a fire control system, LCAC autopilot, and extended-range rockets. Another EN ATD is the Beach Zone Array, a glider-delivered explosive net array of shaped-charge munitions that will provide the capability to clear mines from the craft landing zone. The glider will be launched at altitude and over the horizon from a CH-53E helicopter, and it subsequently guides itself to the beach/surf zone. The Breach Lane Navigation System is a visual aide to assist assault vehicle crews in navigating through cleared lanes in the surf zone.
Program Status: Fielding of the BLNS was completed in FY 1997. ALISS and the Beach Zone Array will complete their ATD performance demonstrations in FY 1998. SABRE and DET are basic explosive systems designed to operate together to meet near-term operational requirements, and are scheduled to be fielded in FY 2000. Production of the EN improvements to SABRE and DET will begin in FY 2004.
Developer/Manufacturer: U.S. Navy and Leigh Aerosystems.
Deployment Contingency System
Description: The lead development program is the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS), an electro-optical mine detection system that uses an aircraft-mounted laser to detect floating and shallow-tethered mines. The capability was successfully demonstrated during an operational assessment in 1995. FY 1996 and FY 1997 efforts included the integration of the Advance Development Models in the SH-2G LAMPS Mk I helicopters (previous efforts were conducted using an SH-2F) to provide an interim contingency capability in the Naval Reserve Force, with the goal of eventually integrating an ALMDS in the active
SH-60 LAMPS Mk III aircraft.
Program Status: Three contingency systems are operational with Light Anti-Submarine Helicopter Squadron 94 (HSL-94), Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.
Developer/Manufacturer: Contingency systems: Kaman Corporation, Bloomfield, Connecticut. Production Systems: To be determined.
Description: The Navy's mine research and development programs are focusing on the need to improve the effectiveness of U.S. naval mines in joint expeditionary warfare scenarios. The current Quick Strike (QS) family of bottom mines though very capable, will be enhanced by incorporating the Target Detecting Device (TDD) Mk 71, which reached Milestone III in 1995, and provides advanced mine algorithms for ship detection, classification, and localization against some of the emerging threats (i.e., quiet diesel electric subs, mini-subs, fast patrol boats, air cushioned vehicles). In future years, exploratory research will pursue multi-influence (acoustic, magnetic, pressure, seismic) sensors, data fusion of multiple influences, advanced sensors for bottom and moored mine applications, and mid-water depth mine concept evaluation. Engineering development efforts include advanced mine algorithms for ship detection, classification, and localization; development of a remote control for mines (RECO) program; and concept evaluation and requirements generation for the next-generation naval mine - the Littoral Sea Mine (LSM).
Program Status: RECO and LSM programs are scheduled to begin research and development in FY 2000 and FY 2001, respectively. Procurement of TDD Mk 71 is scheduled to begin in FY 2002.
Developer/Manufacturer: To be determined.
RMS Remote Mine-hunting System
Description: To sustain operations in the littorals, naval forces must possess an organic capability to assess the extent of the naval mine threat. As part of the advanced forces, surface ships will employ off-board systems to meet the demand for mine reconnaissance of anticipated operating areas. The Remote Mine-hunting System (RMS) is being developed to meet these requirements. RMS will be an organic, off-board system employing mine reconnaissance sensors that will be launched, operated, and recovered from a host surface ship. RMS development will continue to follow an evolutionary acquisition process in which upgraded systems are delivered to the Fleet as the technology matures.
Program Status: In FY 1997, the RMS concept was successfully demonstrated by employment of a prototype system from the USS Cushing (DD-985) in an Arabian Gulf exercise. The Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase for RMS V(3) began in early FY 1998 with construction scheduled for FY 1998-1999. The first operational system will be delivered to the Fleet in FY 2000.
Developer/Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin, Syracuse, New York.
SQQ-32 Advanced Surface Mine Hunting Sonar
Description: The AN/SQQ-32 is a variable-depth mine-hunting detection and classification sonar for the Avenger (MCM-1) and Osprey (MHC-51) surface mine countermeasures (SMCM) ships. Its detection and classification capabilities are significantly improved compared to earlier sonars. The system provides for increases in operating depth, range, coverage rates and a greatly enhanced probability of detection on a single pass. Additionally, AN/SQQ-32 independently displays search and classification information using separate classification transducers in a stabilized, variable depth body. With near-photographic quality resolution, the SQQ-32 has unprecedented capability to discriminate between actual mines and mine-like contacts. This dramatically decreases false target reporting and increases classification reliability. Its multi-beam operation increases the system's search rate and can operate in shallow water.
Program Status: Milestone III was achieved in the fourth quarter FY 1994. It is being installed on all new-construction MHC-51 ships and will be the phased-replacement for the AN/SQQ-30 sonars installed on MCMs 2-9 commencing in FY 1998.
Description: The Navy's first priority in its Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) plan is the rapid development of a covert mine reconnaissance capability. The Near Term Mine Reconnaissance System (NMRS) is being developed to meet this pressing requirement. NMRS will maximize the use of existing Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) systems in a vehicle capable of launch and recovery from the torpedo tubes of Los Angeles (SSN-688)-class submarines. NMRS will integrate forward-looking sonar for obstacle avoidance and initial search capability with an improved AN/AQS-14 side scan sonar for target classification. The Long Term Mine Reconnaissance System (LMRS) is in development to enter
service in FY 2003 and provide a robust, long-term capability to conduct clandestine minefield reconnaissance. The LMRS will replace the NMRS and will provide a significantly improved capability, including submarine launch and recovery as well as autonomous operation for more than 40 hours.
Program Status: The NMRS operational prototype is scheduled for delivery in FY 1998.
Developer/Manufacturer: NMRS: Northrop Grumman Oceanic Division, Annapolis, Maryland. LMRS: Boeing North America and Northrop Grumman Oceanic are preparing detailed designs in competition for the production of LMRS.
VSW MCM Very Shallow Water Detachment
Description: During the past two years, the Navy has successfully completed a feasibility demonstration with the Very Shallow Water (VSW) MCM Test Detachment, and the Chief of Naval Operations has authorized the establishment of a permanent VSW MCM Detachment under the Commander, Mine Warfare Command. This detachment, which in 1998 is in the process of transitioning from its prototype state to an operational unit, provides a capability for conducting advanced-force and pre-assault MCM exploratory and reconnaissance operations in the VSW zone (from 10- to 40-foot water depths) to locate and, if required, to clear potential landing sites in support of joint littoral power-projections operations.
The VSW MCM Detachment, initially comprising Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Naval Special Warfare (NSW/SEAL), and Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance divers, as well as marine mammals, is responsible for developing tactics, techniques, and procedures for MCM operations in the VSW zone and with achieving a capability to mobilize rapidly and to embark with deployed amphibious task groups during contingencies. When not deployed, in essence the VSW MCM Det is the Navy's warfighting laboratory for evaluating prototype systems that offer capability improvements in this complex and critically important naval warfare area.
Program Status: Abbreviated acquisition programs are ongoing to acquire a diver-held Integrated Navigation Sensor System (INSS) that will provide divers in the VSW zone a visually enhanced sensor and a precise navigation capability with a single, small unit. This, coupled with a VSW Underwater Breathing Apparatus (UBA) also in development under an abbreviated acquisition program, will enable a first-ever minefield-suitable capability for detection and reacquisition of mines in the VSW zone. Additionally, the Ex-8 Marine Mammal System (MMS) acquisition program began in early FY 1998 to merge demonstrated prototype capabilities from the VSW MCM Test Det with new technology to acquire an operational MMS Det by the end of FY 2000.
Developer/Manufacturer: The Ex-8 MMS is being developed by the Naval Space and Electronic Warfare Systems Center (formerly NRaD) in San Diego, California. The INSS and the UBA developers are being selected.