The AN/AQS-20C system is integrated into the U.S. Navy’s littoral combat ship mine countermeasures mission package. Its advanced signal processing and computer algorithms offer real-time, computer-aided detection and classification against a full-spectrum of mines in deep and shallow waters.
The system consists of four sonars that operate together for complete coverage without the need for overlapping searches. Two synthetic aperture sonars provide acoustic identification in all water conditions, while a wideband forward-looking sonar simultaneously hunts mines. A digital gap-filler sonar detects mines directly under the towed body.
Autonomously seek and destroy
By operating from an unmanned platform controlled outside the minefield, the AN/AQS-20C safely and effectively supports expansive mine-clearing operations that previously required a warship manned by more than 80 sailors.
“Hunting for mines is hard. There are a lot of mine-like rocks out there, mine-sized fish and debris,” said Andy Wilby, technical lead for Under Sea Warfare at Raytheon.
The system relieves some of the burden on mine countermeasures operators, whose responsibilities include mission planning and monitoring, data gathering and reporting the results that inform tactical decisions.
“This reduced workload leads to higher clearance rates, with fewer chances of a mistake,” Wilby said.