The U.S. Navy’s AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS)—which uses laser technology to provide wide-area reconnaissance and assessment of mine threats in sea lanes—has passed flight capability testing, dramatically improving the Navy’s mine detection capabilities at sea. The ALMDS (see photo), which is designed and manufactured by Northrop Grumman Corp. uses a laser-based sensor pod to rapidly sweep water lanes. The sensor pod can be rapidly installed on a medium-lift helicopter and quickly removed after mission completion.
“Using forward motion of the aircraft, ALMDS’ pulsed laser light generates 3D images of the near-surface volume to detect, classify, and localize near-surface moored sea mines,” explained Mark Skinner, vice president for directed energy at Northrop Grumman. The system is accurate during day and at night, enabling wide-area searches with high accuracy.
Target data can be displayed on a console and stored for post-mission analysis. The ALMDS design has been demonstrated on a UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter, but its self-contained architecture allows it to be used on a wide range of other aircraft.