The US Navy (USN) is to move ahead with plans for an unmanned surface vessel (USV)-based influence minesweeping capability to operate as part of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mine countermeasures (MCM) mission package after abandoning efforts to deploy towed sweep gear from the MH-60S helicopter.
Industry responses to a draft Request for Proposals (RfP) for the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) are due for return to the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) by 24 January 2013. Meanwhile, the annual report from Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), issued in mid-January, confirmed that both the Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep (OASIS) and the AN/ALQ-20 towed sonar are no longer being developed for the Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) programme because the MH-60S has insufficient power to tow the equipment safely.
The draft RfP solicitation for UISS was posted by NAVSEA on 28 December 2012. It characterises UISS as a semi-autonomous, high-endurance unmanned magnetic and acoustic surface sweep system to be operated from the LCS as part of the MCM mission package. The offboard component will consist of a USV, a sweep system, command and control equipment, and part of a government-furnished multi-vehicle communication system. The onboard component aboard the LCS will consist of operator interface software integrated in to the Mission Package Computing Environment, a man-portable control unit, and a stowage cradle.
According to NAVSEA, the UISS vehicle will require a track-following navigation capability to transit from the launch position to the minefield and back to the planned rendezvous with the host platform (including navigation along the planned sweep pattern until the mission is complete); an endurance sufficient for transit to and from the minefield, sweep system engagement, sweeping the assigned section of the minefield, and a loiter capability; situational awareness and system monitoring necessary to support safe operation and obstacle avoidance; and offboard communications including interfaces for line of sight, over-the-horizon, and GPS.