The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has bought four laser mine detection systems that can be mounted on helicopters, in order to safeguard its coastline and the maritime traffic coming daily in and out of the nation’s ports.
This is the first time the airborne laser mine detection system (ALMDS) of Northrop Grumman is being sold to an international navy.
According to the ALMDS program manager for the US Navy, Donna Carson-Jelley, ALMDS will allow the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force to span considerable distances at the flight speed with the help of its MCH-101 aircraft. The system helps protect from mine disasters much in advance, she added.
The mine detection system uses a laser and streak tube imaging light detection and ranging (LIDAR) to sense, categorize and localize moored sea mines that are near-surface. A fan-shaped beam of laser light is transmitted by the system and it has a high area coverage rate potential. The system depends on the advancing movement of the helicopter to cause the light to sweep over the water in a "push broom" pattern.
Four cameras are mounted that help span the same area lit by the laser fan beam. As images are obtained by the system, an automatic target recognition algorithm selects potential mine-like objects and records their images for categorization by shipboard fleet operators with the help of computer-aided post-mission analysis tools.