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US Navy declares IOC for uncrewed MCM Mission package

The US Navy has declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for its uncrewed Mine Counter Measures (MCM) System. The system consists of the US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) MCM mission package (MCM MP) and Raytheon’s AN/AQS-20 Sonar Mine Detection Sets.

An integrated suite of uncrewed systems and sensors, the MCM MP counteracts mines in the littorals while increasing the host vessel’s standoff distance from the threat area. Embarked with the MCM MP, the US Navy says an LCS or a vessel of opportunity can conduct the full spectrum of detect-to-engage operations (hunt, neutralize, and sweep) against mine threats using sensors and weapons deployed from the MCM Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV), an MH-60S multi-mission helicopter, and associated support equipment.

“The declaration of the MCM MP and AQS-20 IOC is a significant accomplishment for the LCS Mission Modules program and the future of mine countermeasures,” said Capt. Godfrey Weekes, program manager of the LCS mission modules program office (PMS 420). “This milestone enables the Navy to field modern MCM systems to the fleet, replacing aging platforms and sensors. The new equipment utilizes cutting-edge unmanned and autonomous technologies and keeps our Sailors out of harm’s way.”

The AN/AQS-20 is a mine hunting and identification system with sensors housed in an underwater towed body that integrates the Wideband Forward-Looking Sonar (WBFLS), two multi-function Side Look Synthetic Aperture Sonars (MFSLS), and Digital Gap Fill Sonar (DGFS) for the detection, classification, and localization of targets. The integration of the Electro-Optic Identification (EOID) sensor allows additional capability. Like the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS), which achieved IOC in July of 2022, the AN/AQS-20 is towed from the MCM USV.

The MCM MP IOC declaration follows Initial Operational Testing and Evaluation (IOT&E) of the full mission package, including the AN/AQS-20 system, during the northern Autumn of 2022 aboard USS Cincinnati (LCS 20), which was built by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama

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