Mines, whether in the sea or on land, pose a significant threat to maritime security and the safety of personnel. Detecting and neutralizing these hidden dangers have long been a priority for naval forces worldwide. However, with the rapid advancement of technology, a new era of autonomous mine countermeasure systems has emerged, promising safer and more efficient operations. At the forefront of this revolution is the MAGNUSS Project, a cutting-edge initiative that aims to push the boundaries of autonomous mine countermeasure technology.
Underwater magnetic mines are a significant threat to naval operations, particularly in littoral environments where there is a high risk of mine deployment by hostile forces. Magnetic mines are designed to detect the magnetic signature of passing ships and detonate when they are in close proximity, causing significant damage to the vessel and endangering the lives of the crew.
The threat posed by magnetic mines has been a concern for navies around the world for decades, and efforts to develop effective mine countermeasure systems have been ongoing. Traditional mine countermeasure methods, such as manual clearance operations using divers or remote-operated vehicles, can be time-consuming, dangerous, and ineffective in certain environments.
One approach to mitigate the threat of underwater magnetic mines is through the use of shipboard degaussing systems. These systems are designed to reduce the magnetic signature of the ship, making it less likely to trigger a mine. However, degaussing systems have limitations, and some magnetic mines are designed to detect changes in the magnetic field and can still detonate even if the ship has been degaussed.
US Navy launched the development of unmanned mine countermeasure systems, the MAGNUSS project, that has the potential to greatly enhance the Navy’s ability to detect and clear magnetic mines. These systems can operate autonomously and can be deployed from a safe distance, reducing the risk to personnel involved in mine clearance operations.
Acoustic Generation Next Unmanned Superconducting Sweep (MAGNUSS)
The Acoustic Generation Next Unmanned Superconducting Sweep (MAGNUSS) mine countermeasure technology project is a research and development initiative aimed at improving mine detection and clearance capabilities in naval operations. The project is led by the United States Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) and involves collaboration with several industry partners and academic institutions.
The MAGNUSS system is designed to be deployed from an unmanned surface vessel (USV) and uses high-temperature superconducting magnet technology to detect and clear magnetic mines. The system generates an acoustic field that is used to “sweep” the area being searched, causing any magnetic mines to vibrate and produce an acoustic signature that can be detected by the MAGNUSS sensors.
One of the key advantages of the MAGNUSS system is its ability to detect and clear mines in shallow waters where conventional mine clearance methods are difficult to use. Additionally, the system is designed to operate autonomously, reducing the risk to personnel involved in mine clearance operations.
The MAGNUSS project is still in the development phase, and further testing and refinement of the technology will be required before it can be deployed for operational use. However, the project represents an important step forward in the development of unmanned mine countermeasure systems that can be used to protect naval vessels and personnel in hazardous environments.
The MAGNUSS system is a significant advancement in mine countermeasure technology due to its unique combination of acoustic and magnetic sensing capabilities. The system uses high-temperature superconducting magnets to generate a magnetic field, which in turn creates an acoustic field that is used to detect and clear magnetic mines. This is different from traditional mine countermeasure systems, which rely solely on magnetic sensing to detect mines.
The MAGNUSS system also has the advantage of being able to operate in a variety of water depths, including shallow waters where conventional mine clearance methods are ineffective. This makes it particularly well-suited for mine clearance operations in littoral environments, where the risk of mines is high.
In addition to its advanced sensing capabilities, the MAGNUSS system is designed to operate autonomously, reducing the risk to personnel involved in mine clearance operations. This is particularly important in hazardous environments where the risk of injury or death from mine detonations is high.
The MAGNUSS project is part of a broader effort by the US Navy to develop unmanned systems for mine clearance and other naval operations. These systems have the potential to improve the safety and effectiveness of naval operations by reducing the risk to personnel and increasing operational efficiency.
Textron Wins ONR Contract To Develop New Detection Of Magnetic Influence Mines
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) awarded Textron Systems [TXT] a $21 million contract in March 2023 to develop the office’s Magnetic and Acoustic Generation Next Unmanned Superconducting Sweep (MAGNUSS) mine countermeasure technology project.
This follows an initial 2021 ONR notice for the MAGNUSS project that seeks to develop a future naval capability for an advanced minesweeping payload technology. At the time, ONR said it consists of a high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnetic source with an advanced acoustic generator that could be used for the Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM-USV).
ONR’s original solicitation said the advantage in using the HTS magnet is its ability to run at very high electrical currents with near-zero resistance. The office said the Navy has a strong desire for a non-towed underwater acoustic source, but since it is a real challenge, at a minimum they are working on a low-drag alternative to legacy acoustic generators.
The HTS magnet and acoustic generator will also have a modularity advantage, allowing it to be deployed on any craft of opportunity, like the MCM-USV.
The solicitation said the work is focused, in part, on how to integrate an HTS magnet and non-towed/low-draft underwater acoustic generator as a deployable single payload aboard the MCM-USV.
In conclusion, the MAGNUSS system represents a significant step forward in the development of mine countermeasure technology and has the potential to greatly enhance the Navy’s ability to operate in hazardous environments.
Overall, the threat of underwater magnetic mines remains a significant concern for naval operations, and ongoing research and development efforts are necessary to develop effective mine countermeasure systems that can mitigate this threat.