The Navy has taken a step forward in deploying a new mine-detection sensor platform. The helicopter-borne array should give operators a way to glean situational awareness around nautical mines from a safe stand-off distance.
The Navy recently announced initial operational capability for the AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System, or ALMDS. Mounted on MH-60 helicopters, the system delivers rapid wide-area assessment of mine threats in sea lanes, littoral zones, confined straits, choke points and amphibious areas of operations.
This latest development supports the Navy’s ongoing effort to get smarter and more efficient about mine detection at sea.
Attached to a standard Bomb Rack Unit 14 mount, the system incorporates nine sub-systems including a laser transmitter, a power distribution unit and four received sensor assemblies. This system uses streak-tube imaging and light detection and ranging to detect, classify and localize floating and near-surface moored mines.
This provides a highly reliable, capable, affordable and fast way of finding and detecting minelike objects. It also is a very safe way to do it because it keeps the sailor out of the minefield.
The pod is designed for plug and play use. It fits in the standard MH-60 rack configuration and can be easily swapped out for other sensor devices.
Looking ahead, the manufacturer aims to glean data from initial deployments in the hopes of making further refinements.