The Littoral combat ship system is the F-22 of the skies. It can't detect mines, it's… Read more Read more The Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS)
“We have an Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) which consists of a boat with no people on it with a magnetic and acoustic device that it tows, called the Unmanned Surface Sweep System (US3). Together, this will allow us to replace the MH-53 helicopters that we use today in the legacy fleet to do these kinds of mine sweeps,” Capt. John Ailes, Mission Modules program manager of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program told
Rather than send the mine-susceptible LCS out into the middle of a suspected minefield, the combat ship will instead deploy the UISS to set off any mines present. The UISS accomplishes this by broadcasting the acoustic signature of much larger ships, which sets off the mines, using the US3. “This would be the first unmanned sweep system [for a] surface capability,” Navy Capt. Duane Ashton told
Wired. The Bluefin Robotics Knifefish
But before the UISS can be deployed, however, sailors need to know what they're up against, both in terms of quantity and type of mines. That job falls to the Knifefish, a small ROV prototype designed to seek out and identify subsurface mines, and the Remove Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV), a diesel-powered semi-submersible ROV equipped with a powerful sonar system. The Knifefish is an oblong-shaped, high speed Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) that acts as the Hunter to the UISS's Killer, providing a coordinate set for the surface drone to investiate. The Navy has ordered a total of 52 UISS drones, one for each new LCS.
The Remove Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMM)
The RMMV, on the other hand is a $12 million. 23 foot-long, 14,500-pound semi-submersible ROV—in that the snorkel that delivers air to its diesel engine and antenna mast sticks out of the water—that tows the
AN/AQS-20A minehunting sonar system and can can operate outside the line-of-sight of its LCS mothership. Two RMMVs can be deployed simultaneously from the LCS for especially treacherous waters and can either be remotely piloted or follow an automated search protocol.
The AN/AQS-20 "allows us to take the ships out of the mine field. The sonar can be lowered depending upon what depth you are searching,” Ailes explained. “Today when you want to go into a mine field, you take a wooden ship in there with people on there. Now, we can send these unmanned systems into the mine field.”
“Ping by ping you can see things." Ailes continued. "You put the acoustic energy in and it comes back and you see a response in time and in amplitude –proportional to target strength or a measure of the cross-sectional energy. Different objects have different responses. We teach the operators what a mine looks like and it takes some training,”
The RMMV is in late stage development and the UISS and Knifefish are still being tested but given that the
LCS has a hull that dissolves in seawater, the ONR will have its work cut out before we see these drones patrolling the shoreline. [ Defense Tech - Navy - Wired - General Dynamics - Images: ] Bluefin Robotics, US Navy