PANAMA CITY, FL -- The Navy, currently focused on mine countermeasures in the wake of Iran threatening to close a vital Middle Eastern waterway, is moving forward with an offensive mining system of its own, conducting two analyses of alternatives both due out early next year.
The Advanced Undersea Weapon System is a planned mine-laying tool the Navy would employ using the future large-diameter unmanned underwater vehicle, said David Tubridy, head of the Naval Surface Warfare Center - Panama City Division's littoral and mine warfare systems department.
The program will eventually fall under the undersea warfare directorate in the chief of naval operations staff (OPNAV N97), though the system is not yet a program of record and is awaiting the results of the two AOAs, he said during the National Defense Industrial Association's annual Expeditionary Warfare Conference here on Sept. 10.
The expeditionary warfare directorate (N95) and the program executive office for the Littoral Combat Ship -- which also oversees legacy mine warfare efforts for the Navy -- are conducting the AOA jointly, Capt. Frank Linkous, head of the mine warfare branch (N952) told Inside the Navy during the conference. That study is being conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab on behalf of the Navy and should wrap up in February, he said, adding that it would look at how to employ mines, how they actuate, what standoff distances would be needed, how to operate clandestinely and more.
The second AOA is being performed by the information dominance directorate (N2/N6) and will focus on just the LDUUV, Linkous said.
Though many offices across the Navy are involved in the AOAs, several speakers said it would likely be the submarine community that uses the eventual weapon system. Though the mines would be laid discretely by the UUV, having the LDUUV launched from a submarine would provide further secrecy.