The U.S. Navy took delivery of the first Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) pod developed and produced by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC). The ALMDS system is designed to operate from the MH-60S helicopter, using a Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging blue-green laser to detect, localize and classify near surface, moored and floating sea mines. The U.S. Navy plans to field up to 45 ALMDS systems between 2009 and 2018.
The ALMDS system is designed to operate from the MH-60S helicopter, using a Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging blue-green laser to detect, localize and classify near surface, moored and floating sea mines.
According to A. Humes, U.S. Navy’s mine warfare program manager, ALMDS has no in-water components, contributing to faster sweeps, shortening detection timeline and maximizing the helicopter’s time on station.
ALMDS is an important element of the mine warfare mission package designed for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). LCS will host five airborne mine countermeasures systems, developed to provide aircraft carrier battle strike groups and expeditionary strike groups with full-spectrum organic mine hunting and reconnaissance capability.
Northrop Grumman produced ALMDS under a $35.7 million contract awarded in April 2006 for a low-rate initial production (LRIP) of two AN/AES-1 ALMDS pods. Within few months (spring 2007) the company plans to start producing two more pods following developmental testing. The third LRIP contract and full rate production are planned in 2009 and 2010 respectively for an additional eleven pods. The Navy plans to buy 45 ALMDS pods between now and 2018.