U.S. Navy’s airborne laser mine detection system achieves initial operational capability

The U.S. Navy’s AN/AES-1 airborne laser mine detection system has achieved initial operational capability, Northrop Grumman announced January 12.

Designed and manufactured by Northrop Grumman Corporation, ALMDS provides rapid wide-area reconnaissance and assessment of mine threats in sea lanes, littoral zones, confined straits, choke points and amphibious areas of operations.

The ALMDS system features a sensor pod that rapidly sweeps the water using laser technology. The sensor pod can also be rapidly installed on a medium-lift helicopter and quickly removed after mission completion.

“Using forward motion of the aircraft, ALMDS’ pulsed laser light generates 3-D images of the near-surface volume to detect, classify and localize near-surface moored sea mines,” said Mark Skinner, vice president, directed energy, Northrop Grumman.

The target data generated by ALMDS is displayed on a console and stored for post-mission analysis. The Navy’s ALMDS installation aboard the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter is mounted on a Bomb Rack Unit 14, which is installed on the carriage, stream, tow, and recovery system. Northrop Grumman says the system can also be installed on other aircraft types.

Earlier this year, Northrop Grumman successfully integrated and demonstrated ALMDS on a UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter. The first international sale of ALMDS occurred in 2012 to the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), and the JMSDF has completed flight qualification testing of ALMDS on an MCH-101 helicopter.

“With initial operational capability, the ALMDS program has delivered a new and important capability to the Navy and to our nation—the first of its kind for mine warfare,” said Erik Maskelony, assistant program manager, airborne laser mine detection system, PEO LCS, Mine Warfare Program Office (PMS 495).