Seaborne mines continue to menace naval and maritime forces worldwide. Mines are used to attack ships approximately 200 times more than any other weapon. The Airborne Mine Neutralization System, or AMNS, is the U.S. Navy’s standard for airborne mine clearance, has been designed to counter this threat. Mines are first identified by the AN/AQS-20A sonar system or other mine countermeasure assets. The AMNS then identifies the location of the mines and neutralizes the target. AMNS neutralizes moored and bottom mines while operating from sea- and land-based MH-60S helicopters. By using helicopters as a central platform, mine clearance has become safer.
The mine neutralization begins with the deployment of the Launch and Handling System (LHS) from the MH-60S helicopter. Because it’s compatible with MH-60S mechanical and electrical interfaces and supports easy on/off kit reconfiguration, the LHS is easily deployed from the aircraft. The highly effective LHS integrates many diverse high-tech capabilities into a single system, including a stable platform from which to launch the neutralizer vehicle.The neutralizer vehicle is released from the LHS under the control of the sensor operator on the aircraft. The operator guides the lightweight (15.5 kg) and highly maneuverable vehicle to the target location using on-board sonar.
Archerfish is an expendable mine neutraliser or single shot mine disposal system. It is capable of overcoming the threat of modern mines which have become increasingly resistant to traditional methods of mine disposal. Archerfish combats the resistance of Insensitive munition mines to disposal whilst reducing resource outlays. Clearance time is lowered by a factor of 4 units and through life costs are also reduced due to the integration of the warhead and package. Archerfish can be launched and operated from surface ships, helicopters and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). It is deployed from a launch ‘cradle’ with a fibre optic data link providing exacting command of the weapon.
Through the use of high frequency sonar and low light video data, Archerfish will identify mine threats and then emit a shaped charge warhead, initiating a full order detonation of the target. Archerfish’s credentials are impressive and it is currently undergoing qualification with the United States Navy as part of the MH60s helicopter Airborne Mine Neutralisation System (AMNS). It has been selected as the Common Neutraliser to ultimately equip all United States Navy Mine Countermeasure platforms.