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Equinox: Improved mine-hunting using commercial-off-the-shelf instruments

Equinox: Improved mine-hunting using commercial-off-the-shelf instruments

In brief

Our technology partners were challenged to deliver a step up in mine-hunting performance by combining existing commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) instruments from within the existing product portfolio. The result was Equinox, a remotely operated towed vehicle capable of improved detection and localisation of mine-like objects.

The challenge

To deliver safe and effective mine countermeasures (MCM) operations, navies are increasingly looking to replace or enhance their MCM fleets with uncrewed systems. Deploying multiple smaller, uncrewed platforms should also deliver higher area coverage rates. However, the resulting solutions are often bespoke, difficult to operate and complex to support.

The solution – Equinox

Our technology partners came together and re-imagined what could be done using standard COTS. Wavefront Systems provided Solstice, a multi-aperture sonar specifically designed for mine-hunting operation in the littoral. Solstice was mounted on EIVA’s ScanFish 3D system, a stable ROTV platform capable of following the seabed at a known altitude. The combination can deliver imagery typically only achievable from an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). Integrating Sonardyne’s SPRINT INS and Mini-Ranger 2 USBL ensured that all mine-like objects could be accurately localised. EIVA’s NaviSuite Kuda was used to plan the survey lines, to monitor the mission and fuse as well as process the data. This software also provides an over-the-horizon control interface. With Equinox you can process contacts in real-time and use them to inform the next stage of the mission while the survey is taking place, allowing you to carry out MCM operations with increased lethality.

Equinox sea trials

The results

Extensive trials have taken place to test the detection capabilities and navigation accuracy achieved through the combination of these instruments. The trials demonstrated that Equinox detects mine-like objects across the whole 200 m swath at a top speed exceeding 6 knots (an effective area coverage rate of 1.6 km2/hr even when accounting for the inevitable overlap from survey lines to cover the gap). The absolute position was found to be better than 1 m (DRMS). This performance is a step up when compared to other side-scan solutions and compares closely to that of synthetic aperture sonar systems that require much more complex logistics. The combination of COTS products is a critical advantage over competing systems, Equinox’s component parts are field proven through thousands of mobilisations. A low-logistics footprint ensures simple and rapid mobilisations. Each building-block is simple to support and has low maintenance requirements. Another added benefit is that it feeds on existing, proven training courses and there is already a large community of existing users.

Equinox delivers high resolution imagery and class-leading positioning

Please contact us to find out more about Forcys’ extensive range of interoperable subsea capabilities.