AN/AQS-20C towed minehunting sonar of the US Navy completes testing


The US Navy has completed developmental testing of the AN/AQS-20C (or Q-20C) towed minehunting sonar, bringing the mine countermeasure system closer to joining the fleet. The system is scheduled to be integrated with its intended tow platform by Fiscal Year 2020.


AN AQS 20C towed minehunting sonar of the US Navy completes testing The AN/AQS-20C Towed Mine-hunting Sonar is streamed into Gulf of Mexico waters of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) Gulf test range (Picture Source: US Navy)


The Q-20C has advanced acoustic and electro-optic sensing capabilities that will detect, localize and classify bottom, close-tethered, moored, and volume-moored mines. The system is towed undersea to simultaneously scan the water column for anti-shipping mines forward of, to the sides, and beneath the vehicle.

According to Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division’s (NSWC PCD) Q-20C Lead Project Engineer Joe Thomas, the Q-20 C variant has increased capabilities, particularly with regard to searching in multiple modes in the water column.

“This is a multi-modal search sonar,” said Thomas. “When you put the Q-20C sonar sensor in the water, it looks down, to each side, and is also forward-looking. The C-variant upgraded acoustic array technology as well as an integrated, electro-optic identification sensor. Previous versions of this sensor had to swap the volume-search module for an electro-optic identification module. With the latest improvements, it’s essentially looking everywhere in the surrounding volume of water.”

Thomas said the improvements implemented into the C-variant ready the system to be integrated with its intended tow platform, the Mine Counter Measures (MCM) Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. Designated on October 8, 2018, as a Program of Record, the MCM USV is a long endurance, semi-autonomous, diesel-powered, all-aluminum surface craft that supports the employment of various MCM payloads.


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