The Navy is pushing ahead with low-rate initial production of the AQS-20A minehunting sonar system for operations from the new MH-60S Knighthawk multi-mission helicopter and the WLD-1 remote minehunting system (RMS)-both of which will fill key roles in the Fleet's minehunting strategy.
The system, developed and built by Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, is a towed, ten-foot-long, 1,000-pound body fitted with five active sonars for detection, classification, and identification of mines lying on the sea bed or suspended above the bottom by cables. The system will be hauled by the MH-60S and RMS, both of which will deploy from Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)-class destroyers and new littoral combat ships (LCS).
In the decade since the release of "From the Sea," the Navy has de-emphasized the use of dedicated minehunting assets, mainly the slow-speed deep-water Avengers (MCM-1) and the Osprey (MHC-51 )-class coastal minehunters, in favor of systems carried with faster-moving combat forces. Four of the 14 Avenger-class MCMs and 11 of the 12 Ospreys have been shifted to the Navy Reserve.