U.S. Navy's AMNS Program Passes Significant Milestone
SYRACUSE, NY, October 18th, 2002 -- The U.S. Navy's Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) achieved a key milestone this month with the successful completion of "Live-Inert" Developmental Testing (DT), during which an inert bottom mine and moored sea mine were successfully engaged and destroyed. A Navy MH-53E helicopter was used for the AMNS test. "We were very pleased to have completed this phase of developmental testing and with the progress we're making to provide the Fleet with a critical tool for mine countermeasures in littoral areas" said Captain Vito Jimenez, the Navy's Airborne Mine Countermeasures Program Manager.
A primary component of AMNS, the SEAFOX unmanned underwater vehicle, is provided by the STN-Atlas company. The SEAFOX, originally designed to be launched and controlled from surface ships, was integrated into the airborne system by Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems - Undersea Systems. Because it is designed to be operated from helicopters, the AMNS provides the Navy with the capability to destroy bottom and moored mines in the littoral battlespace without having to use supporting mine countermeasures (MCM) ships.
The SEAFOX is cued by mine detection and classification data from a mine countermeasures (MCM) platform that has located a mine during a previous search. The SEAFOX then automatically re-acquires the target using its sonar, or the AMNS operator can steer the unit to the target. Real-time video from the SEAFOX camera can be used for target identification and for guiding it to the optimal position for firing its self-contained shaped explosive charge to neutralize the mine.
"This test marks a significant point in the development of this critical program," comments John O'Neill, president of NE&SS-Undersea Systems. "It is extremely important that U.S. Navy has a safety certified and tested expendable mine neutralization system in its arsenal that enables naval forces to counter mine threats in the littorals."