NGC-Navy team proves new sea mine clearing technique

A laser-imaging, helicopter-borne gun system designed by Northrop Grumman Corporation for the US Navy to destroy mines at sea exceeded expectations the first time it fired at underwater targets.
The Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS) is one of four airborne mine countermeasures systems in early production or development by the company.

During testing, the system hung from a 50-story tower that simulated RAMICS on an airborne helicopter. The system’s mission was to locate and fire eight rounds at a submerged target. The statistical expectation was one hit only. Seven of eight shots hit the target within a tightly grouped pattern.
“Shooting a submerged mine from altitude on a moving platform is an incredible algorithmic and hydrodynamic challenge. RAMICS’ test performance was a major accomplishment that proves it can hit submerged mines from tactically significant distances, and do it all with better than expected accuracy,” said Bob Klein, vice president of Maritime and Tactical Systems for Northrop Grumman. “We’re getting closer to the goal of getting the sailor out of the minefield.”

The RAMICS gun is a 30mm MK44 Bushmaster II cannon manufactured by ATK Armament Systems, Clearfield, Utah.

It fires a supercavitating round. Unlike typical projectiles that markedly slow when they hit water, a supercavitating round has a unique configuration that allows it to maintain its velocity when it enters the water. Thus, it maintains its direction and kinetic energy to destroy a mine by impact.

The test took place at the Lake Glendora test range within the Navy Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana.

RAMICS is designed to get target data from another Northrop Grumman mine countermeasures product: the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS).

That system is now in low-rate initial production. Northrop Grumman is also developing the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) system for the Marine Corps and Airborne Surveillance, Target Acquisition & Minefield Detection System (ASTAMIDS) for the Army.
“The goal with all our products is to find mines quickly, locate them accurately, and, at sea with RAMICS, destroy them without endangering divers so that our forces can have assured access to their targets and assured success in their missions,” Klein said.