Navy Improves Helicopter-Fired Laser Weapons to Counter Mines

ALMDS provides rapid wide-area reconnaissance and assessment of mine threats in sea lanes, littoral zones, confined straits, choke points, and amphibious areas of operations. (Northrop Grumman)

ALMDS provides rapid wide-area reconnaissance and assessment of mine threats in sea lanes, littoral zones, confined straits, choke points, and amphibious areas of operations. (Northrop Grumman)

August 13, 2019 | Source: Fox News, Kris Osborn, 23 July 2019

The U.S. Navy is looking at ways to improve its now operational airborne laser system designed to track enemy mines from low-flying helicopters and expand the surface area from which mine detection takes place and no longer rely purely upon more narrowly configured, mechanized, or towed mine detection systems.

The system, called Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) enables shallow-water warships, such as the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), to have a much safer sphere of operations as commanders will have much greater advanced warning of mine-cluttered areas.

Northrop and Navy developers are looking at ways the ALMDS can be further enhanced through ongoing modernization efforts, such as current work to integrate AI.

“We are looking at automating the entire kill chain for MCM (Mine Counter Measures). Now the ALMDS flies on an MH-60. Perhaps we can get that into a smaller form factor and put it on the Fire Scout,” Kevin Knowles, Director of Business Development for LCS, Northrop Grumman, told Warrior Maven in an interview earlier this year.

The ALMDS pod is mechanically attached to the MH-60S with a standard Bomb Rack Unit 14 mount and electrically via a primary and auxiliary umbilical cable to the operator console, according to a statement from the system’s maker, Northrop Grumman.