WASHINGTON-Unman-ned surface vessel (USV) experts at AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, Md., are building an unmanned boat designed to detect and pinpoint ocean mines that pose threats to Navy surface warships and other vessels.
Officials of the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced a $33.9 million contract to AAI for the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS), which will help the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to perform its mine hunting mission.
The UISS is an integrated magnetic and acoustic minesweeping system that is part of the LCS mine warfare module. It will provide magnetic and acoustic influence minesweeping capability when deployed from the LCS.
The UISS will target acoustic, magnetic, and magnetic and acoustic combination mine types, and provide the LCS with a rapid, wide-area coverage mine-clearance capability to neutralize magnetic and acoustic influence mines.
UISS seeks to provide a high area coverage rate in a small, lightweight package with minimal impact on the host platform, Navy officials say.
AAI is developing an unmanned boat for the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship that will help with mine warfare operations.
The UISS surface vehicle will travel aboard the LCS and will be deployed as necessary to detect, pinpoint, and trigger explosive sea mines hidden under the surface to damage or destroy surface vessels.
The system consists of an unmanned surface vehicle that tows an acoustic and magnetic minesweep system that emits acoustic and magnetic signals that provide a false signature that triggers mines. The surface vessel while operating will be far enough away so it will not be damaged by a detonating mine, Navy officials say.
The UISS will use the Navy's Multiple Vehicle Communications System (MVCS) aboard the LCS, which handles communications between the LCS surface ship and different mission packages, including the UISS, which involve mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, and surface warfare.
For the MVCS, the Navy is using the AB3100H embedded computer from Ballard Technology, part of Astronics Corp., in Everett, Wash. The AB3100H rugged computer is part of the company's AB3000 line of small, lightweight embedded computers with the Intel E680T processor, MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC 429/708/717 interfaces, Ethernet, USB, video, audio, and PMC expansion.
The AB3000 series from Ballard comes with factory-installed PCI mezzanine card (PMC) modules that enable designers to add an Ethernet switch, synchronous and asynchronous serial interfaces, and isolated double-throw relays.
AAI also designs the Common Unmanned Surface Vessel (CUSV) with unmanned maritime command and control station. The CUSV uses a modular architecture that accommodates platform reconfiguration and interchangeable payloads.
This common vessel is capable of executing mine warfare; anti-submarine warfare; communications relay; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; anti-surface warfare; and UAS/UUV launch and recovery missions.
The UISS contract awarded to AAI has production options for as many as two production units per year for as many as six production units. AAI is part of Textron Systems Corp., and is in the process of rebranding from AAI to Textron Systems.
On this contract, AAI will do the work in Hunt Valley, Md.; Slidell, La.; Hauppauge, N.Y.; Columbia, Md.; and Lemont Furnace, Pa., and should be finished by March 2017.