Northrop Grumman keeps Navy shipboard navigation running while looking for new technologies
WASHINGTON, 3 April 2016. Shipboard electronics experts at Northrop Grumman Corp. will continue keeping the U.S. Navy's ageing AN/WSN-7B(V) gyro-based passive navigation system in top shape, even as company engineers search for enabling technologies for the next-generation shipboard navigation system.
Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced a $21.7 million order Friday to the Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine segment in Charlottesville, Va., for another year of production and technical support for the Navy’s WSN-7 navigation system.
The AN/WSN-7(V) ring laser gyroscope (RLG)-based navigation system is a self-contained inertial navigation system for Navy surface warships. It is a self-contained passive system that enables Navy ships to navigate without use of GPS signals.
The RLG is a replacement for the gyrocompasses installed onboard U.S. Navy surface ships (AN/WSN-2) and submarines (AN/WSN-2A). Despite its use of ring laser gyros instead of older spinning-mass gyro technology, the WSN-7 system has been around for a long time, and eventually is in line for replacement.
The AN/WSN-7 ring laser gyro navigation system uses 25 year old technology based on the NATO MK49 inertial navigation system deployed in the late 1980s, Navy officials say. Long term, Northrop Grumman experts are developing the Inertial Navigation Systems Replacement (INS-R) Inertial Sensor Module (ISM) to replace the WSN-7.
Like the WSN-7, the INS-R ISM will enable Navy surface vessels to navigate accurately without GPS satellite navigation. Last December Naval Sea Systems Command awarded a $19.8 million contract to Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine to develop the new shipboard navigation system.
Ultimately, the INS-R ISM will serve as the Navy's primary position source in the absence of a Global Positioning System (GPS). The INS-R will provide mission critical ship positioning, velocity, and altitude data to shipboard sensors, combat systems, guns, and missile systems, and provide improved real-time navigation for Navy surface warships, and enable future technology growth.
An INS-R ship set will consist of two dual-redundant navigator units -- one in the aft section of the ship and one in a forward section -- that will operate independently of one other for survivability.
Northrop Grumman engineers will use an open-systems architecture for the system using a modular design, standards-based interfaces, and widely supported consensus-based standards to facilitate future technology insertion and technology refresh, Navy officials say.
During INS-R ISM development, however, Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine will keep the legacy AN/WSN-7B(V) shipboard navigation system functioning. On Friday's WSN-7 contract Northrop Grumman will do the work in Charlottesville, Va., and should be finished by May 2018. The job involves Foreign Military Sales to Japan, Korea, and Egypt.