U.S. Navy Rethinks Mine Hunting Technology
U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said on Friday he was not satisfied with the reliability of the remote mine-hunting vehicle being developed by Lockheed Martin Corp and would look for alternatives.
In October the Navy ordered an independent review of the Remote Minehunting System. The system has faced criticism recently from some lawmakers and defense officials.
A joint statement by Navy officials to a House of Representatives subcommittee on Thursday said the review team recommended not purchasing the second round of low-rate initial production of the system.
Captain Thurraya Kent, a Navy spokeswoman, confirmed that the Navy had stopped procurement in line with the review team's recommendation.
"So we've got 10 of these, we're going to upgrade them to make them more reliable, but it's not a long-term answer," Mabus said at a Washington think tank.
Lockheed Martin spokesman John Torrisi said in an emailed statement that the system found mines at a faster rate than required, but a joint Navy and Lockheed team concluded that reliability issues were caused by "mission package integration issues, vehicle configuration and maintenance shortcomings."
Mabus said the Navy would likely move to an unmanned surface vehicle and in the long run to an unmanned, underwater vehicle.
According to Lockheed Martin, the autonomous, semi-submersible vehicle has:
• 24-hour endurance
• Operates at great distances over the horizon and in heavy sea states
• High mine reconnaissance search rate enhances coastal surveillance capability
• Provides real-time, encrypted line-of-sight and over the-horizon communications to control the vehicle
• Can be operated from shore-based or a variety of maritime platforms