£87 Million Seven-Year Contract
The US DoD has awarded BAE Systems an £87 million (€94.5 million) seven-year contract for production and delivery of ARCHERFISH mine neutralisation systems for the USN – the fourth such consecutive contract awarded to the company since 2003.
ARCHERFISH is a remote-controlled underwater mine neutraliser launched and operated from a surface ship, helicopter or an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). Its fibre optic data link relays real-time, high resolution, low-light video and high frequency sonar pictures of targets of interest from its on-board sensors. The design reduces the time it takes to identify and neutralise targets, meaning clearance missions can be completed more quickly. ARCHERFISH also protects personnel by eliminating the need to put divers into the water.
Used by USN MH-60S helicopters as the AN/ASQ-235, part of the Airborne Mine Neutralisation capability, deployed from the Littoral Combat Ship, ARCHERFISH will continue to support the USN in live mine clearance operations and also provide capability to conduct training exercises between now and 2027. The contract also includes the supply of fibre optic spool kits, support equipment, surveys, repairs and programme management and support, which will be provided by the ARCHERFISH project team based in Portsmouth, UK.
Dr Brooke Hoskins, Director of Products and Training Services for BAE Systems’ Maritime Services business, commented “This contract builds on our strong partnership with the US Navy, which has seen BAE Systems supporting its minesweeping operations for almost two decades. ARCHERFISH not only helps to keep sailors safer, it also reduces the number and cost of mine clearance missions. Its world-leading capability and outstanding service with the US Navy makes ARCHERFISH a highly attractive proposition to other major naval forces around the world.”
Internally funded, ARCHERFISH draws on the company’s extensive expertise in underwater effectors, using a flexible, open architecture command and control system that can be operated solo or integrated into a higher-level command management structure. Wireless communications mean it can be deployed remotely.
Investments continue to be made to enhance ARCHERFISH to meet future mine countermeasure challenges and reduce the through-life cost of the system. Innovative fusing will allow it to be recovered and reused, while an automatic target recognition function is being developed that will allow concurrent multi-shot ARCHERFISH operations, enabling mines to be neutralised in waves.