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Surface Navy 2022: Next-generation navigation system on track for low-rate initial production deliveries

Deliveries of low-rate initial production AN/WSN-12 systems are expected to begin in June 2022. (Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman is on course to start delivering the first low-rate initial production (LRIP) models of its AN/WSN-12 Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) sensor packages in June 2022, Michael Corrigan, company director of Maritime Systems & Integration and Charlottesville site director, told Janes .

β€œWe're in the process of building the LRIP units,” Corrigan said during an interview on 17 December 2021, in advance of the Surface Navy Association National Symposium, which started on 11 January in Arlington, Virginia.

The first ship scheduled to receive the new system is the guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG-96) in September, Corrigan said.

As the AN/WSN-12 footprint is similar to the previous system, replacing the systems should be relatively easy and non-invasive, he said. β€œIt's a relatively straightforward process, done during an availability.”

Northrop Grumman has provided the AN/WSN-7 INS to the US Navy (USN) for its fleet for decades, delivering the 500th WSN-7 cabinet in September 2021, anchored by the system's ring laser gyro technology.

The AN/WSN-12 is based on fibre-optic gyro (FOG), which was adapted for use in land and airborne systems at the start of this century. A key benefit of FOG technology was the ability to scale it up through use of additional fibre, which provided increased accuracy and performance, Corrigan noted.

The upgraded system is needed for more than navigation, Corrigan pointed out. Anti-submarine warfare, combat, and other systems are being mondernised, relying on the data provided from the INS.

β€œAs the other systems advance, we also needed to advance to keep up,” he said.

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