Navy asks Northrop Grumman to maintain and upgrade helicopter laser pod for mine warfare and reconnaissance

March 22, 2023
The ALMDS blue-green lasers can penetrate the water for several feet to detect, classify, and localize near-surface moored sea mines.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Navy mine warfare experts are asking Northrop Grumman Corp. to maintain, upgrade, and support a helicopter-based mine-hunting system that provides rapid wide-area reconnaissance and assessment of mine threats in sea lanes, littoral zones, confined straits, choke points and amphibious areas of operations.

Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced a $10.5 order Tuesday to the Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems segment in Melbourne, Fla., for safety, logistics, engineering, and depot support for the AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS).

The ALMDS uses a sensor pod to sweep the water rapidly using laser technology. The sensor pod also can be installed rapidly on a medium-lift helicopter and quickly removed after the mission. This system’s detection speed and accuracy will improve the Navy mine detection capabilities.

The ALMDS blue-green lasers can penetrate the water for several feet to detect, classify, and localize near-surface moored sea mines. It is accurate in day or night operations, and conducts rapid wide-area searches with high accuracy.

Related: Ocean mines have nowhere to hide

The reconnaissance target data generated by ALMDS shows on a console aboard the helicopter and is stored for post-mission analysis. The Navy’s ALMDS can be installed on the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, and its self-contained design enables the system to be installed on other aircraft types.

Northrop Grumman integrated and demonstrated ALMDS on a UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter in 2017. The first international sale of ALMDS occurred in 2012 to the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), and the JMSDF has completed flight qualification testing of ALMDS on an MCH-101 helicopter.

On this order Northrop Grumman will do the work in Melbourne, Fla., and should be finished by March 2024. For more information contact Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems online at, or Naval Sea Systems Command at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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