New airborne mine-clearing system

July 5, 2009 · Posted in Blogroll, Uncategorized 

ramics Wired’s Danger Room reports on a new airborne naval mine-clearance system being developed by Northrop Grumman. The system is based on a Seahawk helicopter firing high-speed underwater supercavitating projectiles:

Mounted on a helicopter, it combines a sensor to see through water with a 30mm cannon, which can take out a mine with a single shot.

The difference is in the ammunition. When a RAMICS round strikes the water, the pressure wave from blunt tip produces a bubble which surrounds the projectile. This reduces friction so, unlike other projectiles, the bullet keeps its velocity underwater.

A possible counter-torpedo role is also mentioned:

However, the success of RAMICS in tests suggests another alternative. If you can have a Phalanx gatling gun on the deck of a ship to defend against missiles, why not have something similar to destroy incoming torpedoes? RAMICS shows that it’s possible to detect a torpedo underwater using a laser-based sensor, and a 30mm supercavitating round which can destroy a mine can certainly destroy a smaller, think-skinned torpedo. The main question would be accuracy – but RAMICS has proved more accurate than expected in tests, and only needs one shot.

In fact, this is exactly the approach taken by Darpa’s Very High Speed Torpedo Defense project. Testing of the sensor, targeting mechanism and projectiles are being carried out this year in a variety of sea states. (Elsewhere, it’s been suggested that an underwater gun pod, firing supercavitating rounds may be used rather than one above the water).


One Response to “New airborne mine-clearing system”

  1. Bundy on July 5th, 2009 2:59 pm

    Haven’t found an actual picture of a live system rather than a drawing but does seem to have been undergoing a live test.

    My other thought is success of this system does seem somewhat dependent on success of the LCS system as a whole. Looks like 2 RAMICS systems included in MIW module. Anybody seen another other naval platform thats been sold as a possible mothership for systems like RAMICS other than the LCS? Not me.

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