Friday, June 21, 2024

Raytheon’s new sea-mine assassin moves closer to production decision

Raytheon, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, has reached a significant milestone in the development of the Barracuda sea-mine assassin for the U.S. Navy.

According to the company’s recent interview with Seapower, the Technical Data Package for this innovative anti-mine device has been successfully completed, marking progress in the ongoing test program.

The Barracuda, a compact 26-pound, 48-inch-long device housed in a tube equivalent to the size of an A-size sonobuoy tube, demonstrates modern advancements in sea mine neutralization. Launched into action, the device utilizes four small water jets to propel itself to the datum of a suspected sea mine, initially detected by the AQS-20C towed sonar. An acoustic communications data link buoy establishes a tether to the device, facilitating real-time updates such as GPS coordinates. This data allows the Barracuda to approach the sea mine with precision. Equipped with a sonar and camera in its nose, the device enables a man-in-the-loop operator, at least for now, to confirm the mine’s identity before steering and detonating the Barracuda. Notably, each Barracuda functions as a one-shot charge.

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Raytheon initiated the Barracuda project in May 2023, with the production of 128 units for development, 63 for contractor trials, and an additional 65 for the Navy’s trials. The launch platforms for the Barracuda are yet to be finalized by the Navy, with potential candidates including the littoral combat ship’s mine-countermeasures mission package, incorporating the Mine Countermeasures Uncrewed Surface Vessel.

Dan Seamans, Raytheon’s director for mine warfare, highlighted the ongoing efforts and advancements in the project, emphasizing that the Navy’s decisions on launch platforms are pending. The company is currently constructing a surrogate launcher for the test program, progressing towards the development of a tactical launcher.

The Barracuda project, initiated in 2018 with the Navy’s design and development contract, achieved a significant milestone with the Navy’s spiral Critical Design Review completion in July 2023. Looking ahead, Low-Rate Initial Production for Barracuda is slated for fiscal 2027, signaling a strategic leap forward in sea mine defense capabilities.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Colton Jones
Colton Jones
Colton Jones is the deputy editor of Defence Blog. He is a US-based journalist, writer and publisher who specializes in the defense industry in North America and Europe. He has written about emerging technology in military magazines and elsewhere. He is a former Air Force airmen and served at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

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