BAE Systems' Archerfish hunts down sea mines

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The mine-destroying Archerfish ROV, ready for deployment from a helicopter(Credit: BAE Systems)

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The animal known as the archerfish has a unique claim to fame – it shoots down and then eats airborne insects by spitting a stream of water at them. Well, BAE Systems' Archerfish ROV (remote-operated vehicle) is a little different. It locates and then blows up sea mines, by shooting them with an explosive charge.

The Archerfish has actually been in the works for a number of years now.

Things got moving in 2003, when the US Navy selected the concept to be part of its Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) program, with development beginning in 2007. Now, the US Department of Defense has awarded UK-based BAE a £15.5 million (US$22.1 million) contract to manufacture and deliver the ROVs for naval use.

Unlike some other mine-neutralizing submersibles, the Archerfish can be deployed not only from surface vessels but also from a helicopter – in the case of the US Navy, an MH-60S helicopter deployed from a Littoral Combat Ship.

Once the ROV has been dropped into the water from its launch cradle, its remotely-located human operator can guide guide it down towards the mine using a fiber optics communications cable that leads back up to the helicopter. Using its sonar and low-light video, they're able to see when it has found the mine, and are able to then instruct it to shoot a shaped explosive charge at the target to detonate it.

Deliveries to the US Navy are expected to begin in September 2017.

Source: BAE Systems

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