In March, the U.S. Navy canceled its Remote Minehunting System (RMS), which had been one of several modules planned for the littoral combat ship (LCS). RMS was scrapped for low reliability and problems with its mine-detection sonar (AQS-20A). What happens now?
The Navy has two choices. One is to fall back on the earlier tested technology of conventional minehunting. A specialized minehunter goes into a suspected minefield. It examines suspicious objects one by one, using a high-frequency (short-range) sonar. Mine-like objects are subject to further examination and then to neutralization. To complicate matters, neutralization often does not mean destruction, but rather fatal damage to the mine mechanism. To keep a second minehunter from wasting time on a mine already attacked, the minehunter has to construct a precise map of all mines it has examined and attacked (and of all mine-like objects it has classified as non-mines). Whether mines in the sea can be recognized automatically remains a controversial issue.