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Operation minehunter: Remote Minehunting Vehicle provides autonomous mine detection for U.S. Navy.


Lockheed Martin has developed the Remote Minehunting Vehicle (RMV) for the U.S. Navy to detect moored and bottom mines in open and coastal waters. The only part of the unmanned semi-submersible vehicle visible above the waterline is the antenna mast, equipped with a video camera and snorkel. It is virtually undetectable as it searches, locates and identifies mines. With this system, the navy is able to reduce ships and manpower typically needed to carry out these missions.

Naval mines continue to be a threat to U.S. Naval ships, creating more damage than all other combined weapons since World War II, said Lockheed. The U.S. Navy plans to install the RMV aboard the Arleight Burke-Class destroyers and Littoral combat ships as part of a mobile subsystem for the Navy's AN/WLD-1 remote minehunting system. Along with the RMV, the AN/WLD-1 remote minehunting system will include a launch and retrieval system, communication system and software to integrate the system to the host ship's combat system.

The 23 ft. RMV is the main component of the remote mining system. It tows a real-time variable depth mine sensor to detect, classify, localize and identify moored and bottom mines. The sensor can be equipped with high-resolution video, infrared, surface search radar, an ELINT/COMINT receiver or a chem-bio-radiological sensor.

Both a wideband active source and passive receiver are towed by the RMV, allowing it to provide uninterrupted bi-static surveillance and detect and track quiet diesel electric submarines in the littoral waters. It also provides a more protective surveillance of underwater areas. By deploying the RMV, the navy can neutralize assets to achieve rapid mine assessment across coastal battle space.

A Cummins MerCrusier diesel engine rated 370 hp propels the RMV. The snorkel mounted to the antenna mast provides air to the engine. The engine drives the RMV at speeds upward of 16 knots. The antenna has an obstacle-avoidance video camera, and the nose of the unit features forward-looking sonar to detect and avoid underwater objects. The VDS sensor can be integrated with side-look sonar, forward-looking sonar, gap-filler sonar, volume-search sonar or an electrooptical laser imager for mine detection.

RMV development focused on multimission capabilities to reduce costs and manpower by conducting several missions with one system. It gives strike groups an organic line of sight and has over-the-horizon mine reconnaissance capabilities. It is designed for missions such as the classification and identification of surface contacts, support of anti-terror/force protection, support in special operations and to augment electronic warfare collection.


The RMV can find mines in deep and shallow water and can be preprogrammed to perform autonomously. It can also be manually controlled via a datalink and is designed to handle a wide range of sea conditions. The RMV goes into sleep mode when rapid recovery is not possible to preserve fuel.

The RMV can be launched and controlled remotely from forward-deployed surface combatants, or it can be launched without a host combatant ship for coastal defense, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to support a force without a surface combatant infrastructure.

During testing, the RMV was deployed from a pier or a ship by an overhead crane. According to Lockheed, launch or retrieval takes less than 10 minutes and few support personnel.

The RMV can be operated from land by a Portable Command, Control and Communications (C3) system housed in a standard Conex container. The C3 system can be loaded onto the deck of a ship or on the beach, port, harbor or coastal water during a remote mining system operation without a host ship. This communication system provides command and control of the RMV. Operational status is relayed to it via an encrypted data communication mode.

A single operator can control and command the RMV, tying into a ship's AN/UYQ-70 console and the AN/SQQ-89 undersea warfare system. Mine contract data is linked to the ship's AEGIS combat system and Global Command and Control System-Maritime, displaying system performance, RMV display and sonar, for distribution to the battle group and shore commands.

During close-in (line of sight) mine-hunting, a high data rate RF link sends continuous VDS sonar data and camera video imagery back to the communication center. During over-the-horizon missions, a lower RF bandwidth will send snippets of sonar data and video imagery.

Operational service of the ANNVLD-1 remote minehunting system with RMV began with the U.S.S. Bainbridge DDG 96 ship early this year, and systems will transition to Littoral Combat ships as part of the Mine Warfare and ASW Mission packages.

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Title Annotation:INNOVATIVE uses of HORSEPOWER
Author:Geske, Dawn M.
Publication:Diesel Progress North American Edition
Date:Dec 1, 2008
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