Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force orders airborne laser mine detection systems

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has purchased four helicopter-mountable, laser mine detection systems. This is the first direct commercial sale of Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) to an international navy.

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. 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 is working with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., and Fujitsu Limited on the delivery and installation of ALMDS.

By Skyler Frink Assistant Editor

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