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General Dynamics Mission Systems to prototype Hammerhead encapsulated mine

General Dynamics Mission Systems has been selected to develop and prototype the US Navy's (USN's) new Hammerhead encapsulated anti-submarine warfare (ASW) mine system.

Being procured as a Maritime Accelerated Acquisition programme, and forming part of a wider recapitalisation of the navy's offensive mining capability, Hammerhead is designed to complement existing shallow-water mines by providing a pre-positioned maritime mining capability in deeper water depths. It will use the existing MK 54 lightweight torpedo (modified for underwater launch) as a kinetic effector against submarine targets.

Intended to replace the capability previously delivered by the now-retired MK 60 CAPTOR mine, Hammerhead will deliver effects over an expanded operating area in order to restrict or deny adversary access to the intended area. The system will use modern sensing and processing technology to enable accurate targeting at increased range, and then release the self-contained/self-propelled MK 54 effector to engage the target once detected.

The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) released a competitive request for proposals (RFP) for prototype development in January this year, describing Hammerhead as “a moored-torpedo variant mine system for intermediate to deep depths that has the capability to detect, classify, and defeat ASW targets”. It added that the new weapon will be deployed by an unmanned underwater vehicle “to provide overt or clandestine standoff delivery of multiple mines”.

The RFP called for the build of five Hammerhead prototype articles, together with the supply of support equipment, interface test assets, mass models, and physical fit check models. Option pricing was additionally sought for up to 80 additional prototype articles.

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