The advanced acoustic signal processing algorithms offer real-time and automated target recognition detection and classification against a full spectrum of mines in deep and shallow waters.

Complete coverage

The AN/AQS-20C system consists of four high-resolution sonars along with an electro-optical laser imaging device that operate together to detect, classify and identify mine-like objects – from the sea floor to the near surface in a single pass. It includes:

  • A pair of multi-function, side-look synthetic aperture sonars that provide acoustic identification in all water conditions. 
  • A wide-band forward-looking sonar that simultaneously hunts mines.
  • A digital gap-filler sonar that detects mines directly under the towed body.

Mission advantage

The system uses high-resolution sensors to provide a clearer, less cluttered picture of the environment. Its advanced automatic target recognition provides cueing for contact identification, and its high-resolution, acoustic identification feature offers an identification capability independent of the electro-optic sensor. 

The AN/AQS-20C is the only mine countermeasures mission system that combines these capabilities into a comprehensive mine-hunting approach. When paired with neutralizers like the Barracuda, a semi-autonomous unmanned underwater vehicle that identifies and destroys mines, the system can support single sortie and in-stride mine clearance. Barracuda, developed by Raytheon, is expected to be deployed by 2026.

Navy personnel have extensively tested the AN/AQS-20C system against real targets and across a full spectrum of environmental qualifications. The US Navy declared the AQS-20C for Initial Operating Capability in May 2023, and the first mission packages will enter service to the fleet beginning in 2024.


The AN/AQS-20C was designed for deployment from helicopters, ships, rigid-hulled inflatable boats, and unmanned and autonomous surface platforms. The towed sonar system has been demonstrated and autonomously operated from unmanned surface vehicles, ships of opportunity and shore-based operating areas.