New counter-mine measures on way

April 9, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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FAIRFAX, Va., April 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy and allied militaries are closer to gaining new counter-mine capabilities through systems under development.

The first is an unmanned undersea vehicle for detecting mines on the ocean floor. The second is an airborne laser-based system to detect mines in in-shore waters.

General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems reports its unmanned undersea vehicle for use as counter-measure for mines has successfully completed its critical design review and it will now begin development of system hardware and software to integration into three engineering development modules of the craft, which is called the Knifefish.

Knifefish will be part of the counter-mine mission package aboard U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ships.

"Knifefish is designed to be compatible with an open architecture platform, ensuring that the Navy's mission systems will keep pace with technology and continue to evolve to meet current and future mission requirements," said Lou Von Thaer, president of General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems. "The ease of the 'plug and play' integration with ship systems and mission modules allows for platform flexibility and quick reconfiguration of the whole mission package in response to the dynamic requirements the fleet will encounter day to day."

General Dynamics said the Knifefish, operating in minefields as an off-board sensor, is expected to be operational in 2017. It will be used to detect and classify mines resting on the seafloor and buried mines in high-clutter environments and areas.

The contract to develop the system was given to the company and its partners by the U.S. Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command in 2011.

Team members include Bluefin Robotics, Ultra Electronic Ocean Systems, Oceaneering International Inc., Metron, Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State University, 3 Phoenix, General Dynamics Information Technology, and ASRC Research Technology Solutions.

In a related counter-mine development, BAE Systems reports it has been awarded a $20 million contract to develop an advanced airborne laser-based prototype for detecting mines and obstacles in near-shore waters for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

Development of the system is part of the military's Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis program and will protect troops as they transition from ship to shore.

"This program will help save lives, and to us there is no better reward than providing technology to help protect those who put themselves in harm's way while serving our nation," said Reid Noguchi, general manager of BAE Systems Spectral Solutions.

"Having conducted extensive research and development in advanced sensors, airborne prototype systems, and sophisticated real time software, BAE Systems has worked closely with the Office of Naval Research to mature the technologies and capabilities to meet the Navy's mine counter-measures needs on an accelerated timeline."

Under the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis program, technologies are developed and prototyped to reduce acquisition costs and accelerate their delivery to the fleet.

BAE said it will leverage resources in design, integration, and testing across its product lines for the system development.

The work will be performed at company facilities in Hawaii. New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

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