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The AN/AQS-20A mine hunting and identification system is equipped with acoustic and identification sensors housed in an underwater towed body. The acoustic sensors detect, classify, and pinpoint bottom, close-tethered, and volume enemy mines. The system uses imaging sonars, signal processing, and computer algorithms to localize mine-like objects and alert the system operator with a visual image and a contact data list.

The US Navy has asked Raytheon to overhaul, repair, and upgrade its AN/AQS-20 towed mine-hunting sonar under terms of a $20.7 million order to improve system performance, sustainability, and reliability.

The AN/AQS-20A is an integrated acoustic and electro-optical sensor system with a hydrodynamically stable towed body sensor that operates from Navy MH-53E and MH-60S helicopters, as well as from the AN/WLD-1 remotely operated underwater vehicle. The system can find and neutralize sea mines placed as deeply as 450 feet deep. Its sidescan, forward-looking, and gap-filler sonar subsystems detect and pinpoint sea mines from long ranges. Its streak-tube imaging LiDAR (STIL) electro-optical sensor provides high-resolution 3D images at short ranges to help identify bottom and moored mines, according to militaryaerospace.com.


The STIL sensor, also called Electro-Optic Identification (EOID), is from Raytheon partner Areté Associates Optical Engineering.

The system sends sonar and imaging data through its fiber-optic tow cable to the operator console located either aboard the host helicopter or by wireless data links to operators aboard nearby surface vessels. The operator’s station has a high-speed data recorder to store mission information for later analysis.