The US Navy (USN) has declared initial operating capability (IOC) for its AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS), manufacturer Northrop Grumman announced on 12 January.
The milestone for the ALMDS comes under two-and-a-half years after operations with the helicopter-based system began in August 2014.
Fitted to a Sikorsky MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter, the ALMDS is an airborne mine countermeasures (MCM) Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor that is designed to provide rapid wide-area reconnaissance and assessment of mine threats in sea lanes, littoral zones, confined straits, choke points, and amphibious areas of operations.
According to Northrop Grumman, the ALMDS differs from previous airborne counter-mine systems in that the laser affords faster sweep and detection speeds to significantly improve the navy's mine detection capabilities, and the self-contained pod that houses the sensor can be rapidly fitted and removed from the host aircraft. The 365 kg sensor pod is mounted externally on the helicopter on a BRU-14 weapon station mount. It is 2.7 m in length, has a diameter of 53 cm, and has no moving parts.
The operator on board the helicopter is presented with a 3-D image of the upper volume of the sea that indicates the position of objects detected in this observed volume. He or she views a computer-enhanced image of detected objects, and displays their characteristics for comparison and correlation of mine-like objects and mines.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options: ihs.com/contact