AN/AQS-20C Mine-Hunting Sonar

The AN/AQS-20 Minehunting Sonar enters the water. (Photo: US Navy)

Seeking in high definition

The AN/AQS-20C sonar mine-hunting system is the U.S. Navy’s latest mine-hunting technology, which is integrated into the littoral combat ship mine countermeasures mission package. Its advanced signal processing and computer algorithms offer real-time, computer-aided detection and classification against a full-spectrum of mines in deep and shallow waters.

Complete coverage

The AN/AQS-20C system consists of four sonars that operate together to detect, classify and identify mine-like objects – from the sea floor to the near surface in a single pass. It includes:

  • A pair of multi-function, side-look synthetic aperture sonars that provides acoustic identification in all water conditions. 
  • A wide-band forward-looking sonar which simultaneously hunts mines.
  • A digital gap-filler sonar that detects mines directly under the towed body.

Mission advantage

The system uses high-resolution sensors to provide a clearer, less cluttered picture of the environment. Its advanced automatic target recognition provides cueing for contact identification, and its high-resolution, acoustic identification feature offers an ID capability independent of an electro-optic sensor.  

The AN/AQS-20C is the only mine countermeasures mission system that combines these capabilities into a comprehensive mine-hunting approach.  When paired with neutralizers like the Barracuda, a semi-autonomous unmanned underwater vehicle that identifies and destroys mines, the system can support single sortie and in-stride mine clearance. Barracuda, developed by Raytheon Missiles & Defense, is expected to be deployed by 2026.

Navy personnel have extensively tested the AN/AQS-20C system against real targets and across a full spectrum of environmental qualifications.

Platform agnostic

The AN/AQS-20C can be deployed from helicopters, ships, rigid-hulled inflatable boats, and unmanned and autonomous surface platforms. The towed sonar system can also be autonomously operated from the Navy’s mine countermeasures mission unmanned surface vehicle.