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ONR sets sights on superconducting MAGNUSS minesweep

The US Navy (USN) is pursuing a science and technology effort intended to yield a new unmanned influence minesweeping payload based on a high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnetic source and an advanced acoustic generator.

Given the name MAGNUSS (Magnetic and Acoustic Generation Next Unmanned Superconducting Sweep), the programme is being managed by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) as part of its Future Naval Capabilities (FNC) portfolio. The intention is to integrate and deploy the MAGNUSS sweep from the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV).

In a 10 August programme announcement, the ONR said the advantage of using an HTS magnet is its ability to run at very-high electrical currents with near-zero resistance.

The USN is in the process of transitioning the MCM mission from dedicated legacy hulls to a suite of mission modules embarked on Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) as an MCM mission package. These modules include a deployable MCM USV equipped with sweep gear to execute the minesweeping mission.

The MCM USV minesweeping payload is known as the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS). This system tows a modified Mk 104 system acoustic generator and a magnetic minesweeping cable. However, while the MCM USV is entering service with the UISS, the ONR has been developing an advanced closed-loop minesweeping system using an HTS magnet coupled with an acoustic source to generate underwater acoustic energy.

“The high ampacity of the HTS magnet generates a magnetic dipole moment with suitable performance to effectively sweep magnetic influence mines when coupled to an acoustic generator,” the ONR said in its 10 August programme announcement.

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