BAE Systems has won a contract worth up to £87m to manufacture and deliver ARCHERFISH mine neutralisers to the US Navy, making this the fourth consecutive contract awarded to BAE Systems by the US Department of Defense (DoD) for the system since 2003.
ARCHERFISH, which will be delivered over the next seven years, is a remote-controlled underwater mine neutraliser that can be 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. The system is used by the US Navy’s MH-60S Helicopter squadrons (AN/ASQ-235) as part of the Airborne Mine Neutralisation capability, deployed from the Littoral Combat Ship and protects personnel by eliminating the need to put divers into the water
Under the new contract ARCHERFISH will continue to support the US Navy 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.
Developed by BAE Systems under its own investment, ARCHERFISH draws on the company’s extensive expertise in underwater effectors. It uses a flexible, open architecture command and control system that can be operated on its own 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 and an automatic target recognition function is being developed that will allow concurrent multi-shot ARCHERFISH operations, enabling mines to be neutralised in waves, a BAE Systems official said.
ARCHERFISH is manufactured in the UK at BAE Systems’ Broad Oak facility in Portsmouth, Hampshire, and Hillend facility in Dunfermline, Fife.