Sea mines are not only cheap and deadly, they are also vexingly difficult to find — even with modern equipment as the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Princeton discovered during the first Gulf War in 1991.
The multi-billion dollar Aegis cruiser was severely damaged by a pair of Italian-made MN103 Manta sea mines that cost only a few thousand dollars. Earlier, a World War I-era mine nearly sank the guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq War.
Northrop Grumman announced recently that it will be participating in the British Royal Navy’s Unmanned Warrior exercise where the American defense giant will demonstrate its unmanned mine hunting capabilities.
During the exercise, Northrop will show-off its AQS-24B towed mine hunting sensor, which will be operated from an Atlas Elektronik U.K. ARCIMS Unmanned boat.
The AQS-24B towed mine hunting sensor is already being used by the U.S. Navy. According to Northrop, the AQS-24 features the world’s only high speed synthetic aperture sonar for mine detection, localization and classification as well as an optical laser line scan sensor that is used for mine identification.
Meanwhile, the ARCIMS is a small boat measuring 11 meters long, which will be operated via remote control while towing the AQS-24B through a simulated mine field, according to the company.