March 12, 2008 A Northrop Grumman system designed to protect ships by using lasers to detect mines in the ocean has been given the go-ahead by the U.S. Navy for low-rate initial production. The US$25 million will see three Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) produced with expectations that 25 units will be manufactured over the next five years.
The Northrop Grumman ALMDS is mounted in an H-60 helicopter that flies ahead of the fleet to determine if mines lie in the ships' path. Two units have already been delivered under the first phase of low-rate initial production and are undergoing operational tests.
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"The purpose of the Northrop Grumman Airborne Mine Countermeasures products is to help give our customers assured access. ALMDS is a new, high-technology capability that not only helps assure access but also helps minimize a sailor's exposure to dangerous mine threats at sea -- 'keeping the sailor out of the minefield,'" said Bob Klein, vice president for Northrop Grumman's Maritime and Tactical Systems integrated product team (IPT).
The system is part of a larger suite of airborne mine detection and countermeasure products that includes the Navy's Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System and two unmanned air vehicle UAV mounted systems - the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance & Analysis system, which is designed to be flown aboard a Northrop Grumman Fire Scout (UAV) to detect surface mines and other obstacles on the beachhead, and the Airborne Standoff Minefield Detection System, which uses an integrated airborne sensor suite to detect and locate recently buried, scattered or surface-laid mines and obstacles on the battlefield.
"Working closely with our customer Naval Sea Systems Command (PMS 495), the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Panama City, Fla., and our key suppliers, we finalized the software and exceeded all our key performance parameters, with a 50 percent increase in depth performance and 60 percent reduction in post-mission-analysis time," said Klein.
ALMDS was developed and is produced by Northrop Grumman at its Melbourne, Florida site. Key suppliers are: Arete Associates, Tucson, Ariz.; VMETRO, Houston; CPI Aero, Edgewood, N.Y.; CEO, St. Charles, Mo.; and, Meggitt Defense Systems, Inc., Irvine, Calif.
Via Northrop Grumman.