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US Navy approves full-rate production of new Inertial Sensor Module

The AN/WSN-12 Inertial Sensor Module, which provides accurate positioning data with or without Global Positioning Systems for US Navy ships and submarines. (Northrop Grumman)

US Navy (USN) leaders have approved full-rate production for the newest variant of the sea service's Inertial Sensor Module (ISM), which will provide surface and underwater combatants with precision positioning data, even in the absence of Global Positioning Systems (GPSs).

Low-rate initial production (LRIP) variants of the Northrop Grumman-built AN/WSN-12 ISM had already undergone a number of lab-based testing and evaluation by the navy, in preparation for the system's initial sea trials in late 2023, according to Rudy Fernandez, director of the Maritime Systems and Integration Operating Unit at Northrop Grumman. The new WSN-12, once fielded, will replace the legacy AN/WSN-7 ISM.

“They've been tested, and they passed all the tests in the lab,” Fernandez told Janes. “There's another component, the electronics piece ... that is still going through that kind of testing maturation. [But] when that gets through that lab testing, then the next goal is to put both on the ship for testing,” he said during a 22 June interview.

Navy officials and their counterparts at Northrop Grumman are still discussing which surface vessel the WSN-12 will be mounted on for the pending sea trials. However, Fernandez said the test ship will likely be an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer (DDG). “I think it's probably going to be a DDG ... and just to me it makes more sense that that's where it will be tested based on how the navy has done things in the past,” he said, while making it clear that no decision on a test ship has been confirmed.

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