Northrop Grumman has delivered the first of four AQS-24A airborne mine-hunting vehicles to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force for deployment on Japan’s new MCH-101 helicopter platform.
“This first delivery is a major milestone in the development of Japan’s airborne mine-hunting capability,” said Tom Jones, vice president of Northrop Grumman’s Undersea Systems business unit. “The effort marks the first complete build of an AQS-24A since eight were delivered to the U.S. Navy in 1995. It demonstrates that the configuration baseline is relevant to modern threats, can be rapidly produced, and is suitable for other international and domestic customers.”
The AQS-24A and its predecessors, the AQS-24 and the AQS-14 – all built by Northrop Grumman – are the only operational airborne mine-hunting search systems used by the U.S. Navy for the past 29 years. The AQS-24A is a high-speed mine-hunting system that is primarily towed from the MH-53E helicopter and has been adapted easily to the JMSDF version of the EH-101 aircraft.
The AQS-24A contains a laser line scanner that provides precision optical identification of underwater mines and other objects of interest. The AQS-24A allows for simultaneous operation of the sonar and laser, which significantly improves area coverage rate, shortens the mine clearance timeline and alleviates unnecessary maintenance cycles. Advanced navigation controls and processing provide highly accurate target positioning.
Later this summer, Northrop Grumman will deliver the first of four Airborne Laser Mine Detection Systems to the JMSDF to operate in conjunction with the AQS-24A. ALMDS is a laser-based, light detection and ranging sensor system that detects, classifies and localizes near-surface mine-like objects from above the waterline and is complementary to the AQS-24A.
“These two mine detection systems will provide Japan with an unprecedented, complete surface-to-bottom mine detection capability from a helicopter,” Jones said.