AN/AQS-24 Mine Hunting System

Keeping US warfighters and vessels safe

For many years the United States Navy has operated various seabed and open ocean mine hunting systems as part of its national security mission. Over time, these systems have increased in sophistication, complexity and effectiveness. Colmek is proud of our contributions to these important defensive systems.

AN/AQS-24 Mine Hunting System

The AN/AQS-14 Mine hunting system is a helicopter towed SONAR array system, incorporating SONAR, laser and acoustic payload configurations used in the detection and classification of oceanic mine threats. The system consists of the tow-fish, tow cable/umbilical and tow vehicle, most commonly the MH-53 Sea Dragon helicopter.

Difficulties Encountered

This mine-hunting system has suffered from data recording challenges since the program’s inception. By 1995, all AN/AQS-24A airborne and analysis systems had been deployed using legacy government-furnished recording systems converted for use as digital recorders. The recorder was extremely expensive and suffered from incompatibility problems when spare parts were used to repair the systems. Furthermore, changes and repairs could not be performed in the field, due to precise alignment procedures and special test equipment only available at the factory. This recorder was also limited in its data capacity and would not allow for the extensive upgrades which were being considered for the system.

Colmek to the Rescue!

Colmek designed a replacement recorder which conformed to the same envelope and connector pin-out as the original unit and arranged for a performance fly-off between the two systems. The recorder produced by Colmek proved to be faster, more reliable and more cost efficient (savings of 50%) over the original equipment. In addition, the transports could be interchanged in the field without recalibration. Colmek provided all required non-recurring engineering, the new recorders for Version 1 and replacement recorder units for all fielded systems at a lower price than the original manufacturers quoted for the recorders alone.

Upon completion of the design and fabrication of the first production unit, and required qualification testing of each of the items, the AN/AQS14A program became a “build-to-print” production job for Colmek. Initial production units were delivered in 1995 and are still in service.

Today, in 2015, Colmek continues to service and provide upgrades to the AN/AQS-24A Mine Hunting System. Most recently, major improvements have come through the reduction in size and weight of various system components for use on the tow helicopter and multiple technology upgrades in terms of system hardware, recording functionality, software features and reduced component costs.

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