Northrop Grumman To Supply Japan With Airborne Laser Mine Detection System

  • 12:00 AM, February 3, 2012
  • 2295
In an effort to protect its coastline and monitor daily maritime traffic coming in and out of the country's ports, The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has purchased four helicopter- mountable, laser mine detection systems from Northrop Grumman. Making this the first direct commercial sale of Northrop Grumman Corporation's Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) to an international navy. Donna Carson-Jelley, ALMDS program manager for the U.S. Navy, said, "ALMDS will enable the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force to cover significant distances at the speed of flight using its MCH-101 aircraft. This technology dramatically compresses the time between mine detection and neutralization. ALMDS keeps mine countermeasures ahead of the threats." The mine detection system is laser-based and utilizes streak tube imaging light detection and ranging (LIDAR) to detect, classify and localize near-surface moored sea mines. Capable of high area coverage rate capability, the system transmits a fan-shaped beam of laser light to establish its swath width, and then relies on the forward motion of the helicopter to sweep the light over the water in a "push broom" manner. Four cameras are arranged to cover the same swath illuminated by the laser fan beam. As images are received by the system, an automatic target recognition algorithm picks out potential mine-like objects and stores their images for classification by shipboard Fleet operators, using computer-aided post-mission analysis tools. Northrop Grumman has partnered with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., and Fujitsu Limited on the delivery and installation of ALMDS.
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