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Navy League 2019: Raytheon mine clearance package moves ahead with AQS-20C sonar, Barracuda effector

The US Navy (USN) now has 10 production Raytheon AQS-20C mine-hunting sonar units in the fleet, as the service hopes these can help shift to single sortie detect-to-engage (SSDTE) mine clearance missions.

The AQS-20C has gone through testing but Raytheon and the USN are continuing to learn about how to use it, Randy Brandenburg, Raytheon’s seapower business development executive, told Jane’s . He expects there could be another competition for another production run, but the navy has not yet finalised or announced such a decision.

The C-model differs from the earlier AQS-20A largely through changes to the software, the forward-looking sonar, and some reliability improvements, Brandenburg said. The towed body is 3.2 m long, 39.2 cm wide, weighs 442.3 kg (outside of water), and provides 2.5 kW power.

The US Navy has 10 production Raytheon AQS-20C mine-hunting sonar units. (NAVSEA/Eddie Green)

The US Navy has 10 production Raytheon AQS-20C mine-hunting sonar units. (NAVSEA/Eddie Green)

The AN/AQS-20C is fitted with a Wide Band Forward Looking Sonar (WBFLS), a Gap Filling Sonar (GFS), and high-resolution side-scanning Synthetic Aperture Sonars (SASs).

Combined, the WBFLS, GFS, and SASs are designed “to detect and classify mine-like objects from the sea floor to the near surface in a single pass”, Raytheon said. “The high-resolution acoustic ID Sonar, with advanced Automated Target Recognition [ATR] capabilities, operates in conjunction with the electro-optic sensor to provide the identification capability essential to support a true autonomous, single sortie detect-to-engage mission.”

The electro-optics identification capability provides high-definition images of bottom mines using Streak Tube Imaging Laser (STIL) technology, Raytheon said. “The STIL technology provides the operator with both range and contrast data for post-mission analysis to aid in mine identification.”

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