US Navy receives first upgraded mine hunting sonars

The U.S. Navy has received the first of three lots of Northrop Grumman’s mine hunting sonar upgrade kits which will be used by the the HM-12, -14 and -15 Mine Countermeasures Squadrons.

Under the Navy’s contract, Northrop Grumman is to upgrade 27 AQS-24A mine hunting systems into the more advanced AQS-24B system.

Work is being done in three production lots. With the delivery of lot one completed, lots two and three will deliver later in the year and in spring, 2017, respectively.

According to Northrop Grumman, the upgrades eliminate diminishing material issues while increasing performance by adding the high speed synthetic aperture sonar, which increases sonar resolution by a factor of three while maintaining 18 knots speed performance.

As the company explains, the synthetic aperture sonar enables the device to scan the ocean floor at three times the resolution of the earlier system while operating at a speed of 18 knots, nearly twice as much as any other operational towed mine hunting device in the world. The AQS-24B will be operated from MH-53E helicopters and the Mine Hunting Unmanned Surface Vessels (MHU) currently deployed in the Arabian Gulf.

“The successful delivery of the initial eight production AQS-24B kits allows for the first operational employment of High Speed Synthetic Aperture Sonar technology by the U.S. Navy,” said Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems.