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AN/AWS-2 Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS)

The AN/AWS-2 Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS) fires a special 30mm supercavitating projectile from a Bushmaster II gun to neutralize surface and near-surface mines. The RAMICS system is intended to be hosted onboard the MH-60S helicopter as one of the five Airborne MCM (AMCM) weapon systems developments to be organic to the Strike Group/Carrier Battle Group. At the heart of this system is the supercavitating 30mm Mk 258 Tungsten projectile that was specially designed for traveling tactical distances in air and water and through a casing, causing a low-order deflagration of the mine.

The Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS) program was designed as a helicopter-borne weapon system that would fire a special supercavitating projectile from a modified Gatling gun or cannon to neutralize surface and near-surface mines. The gun would be controlled by a fire-control system with targeting algorithms coupled with a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) system. The LIDAR would locate and target the mines, and provide aiming coordinates to the gun's fire control system to fire a burst of rounds at the mine, causing immediate and positive mine neutralization.

The Mk 258 30mm round developed for the RAMICS supercavitating projectile is small, bullet-like, flat-nosed and spin stabilized in air. The major difference between the traditionally focused Mod 0 and RAMICS specific Mod 1, is that the Mod 1 incorporates a modified projectile nose to allow supercavitation. The projectile is designed to enter the water at oblique angles to the surface and to travel in both air and water. Upon water entry the shape and speed of the projectile produce a cavitation envelope in which the projectile rides at low drag. These projectiles can travel far greater distances underwater than conventional bullets and can effectively neutralize shallow bottom mines.

The DTO focused on the in-stride mine clearance capabilities of the Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS) ATD and participation in the Joint Countermine ACTD. RAMICS would employ a light detection and ranging (LIDAR)-based targeting system and hypervelocity, supercavitating projectiles fired initially from a conventional 20-mm, and later a 30-mm gun mounted on a helicopter to rapidly neutralize near-surface moored mines within 20 ft of the sea surface.

Four subsystems are unique to RAMICS and make up the RAMICS Mission Kit (RMK). They are:

  • Targeting sensor subsystem, which is a blue-green laser and receiver
  • Gun subsystem, which is a MK 44 Bushmaster (the Bushmaster includes a gun control unit, a turret control unit, an ammunition can, an ammunition feed mechanism, and a power source)
  • Munition subsystem, which is the aforementioned Mk 258 Mod 1 APFSDS-T
  • fire control subsystem, which consists of the hardware and software that coordinates and controls the gun subsystem and the targeting sensor subsystem

An additional two subsystems not specific to the RAMICS are to be incorporated into the RMK. These are:

  • The common console, which Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, New York, was developing. The common console is responsible for the display; command, control, and recording; built-in test, direction; and management of the gun subsystem and targeting sensor subsystem. The common console provides the link between the portions unique to RAMICS in the RMK and the helicopter operations systems. The common console is also to be used for other AMCM systems
  • The carriage, stream, tow, and recovery system, which Concurrent Technologies Corporation is developing. The carriage, stream, tow, and recovery system will provide the mechanical interface to the MH-60S helicopter

In FY97, the program demonstrated preliminary munition integration of the 20-mm Anti-Mine Projectile (AMP), improved aero-/hydrodynamic performance and ballistic characteristics of AMP, target mine vulnerability and AMP reactive-material payload effectiveness, static (tower) platform testing and demonstration of gun and LIDAR targeting and fire control system components, and integrated system-level computer simulation of RAMICS system performance. These demonstrations were expected to characterize performance and lethality of gun, AMP, and targeting and fire control components. The FY98 goal was to demonstrate system lethality and effectiveness against actual mines. The demonstration was expected to finalize AMP and payload design and complete integrated system design. In FY99, the program was expected to demonstrate operation of the fully integrated RAMICS (LIDAR targeting/fire control, 20-mm gun, and AMP) from a static platform. The FY00 goal was to demonstrate in-flight (airborne platform) operation of the integrated RAMICS system against live mines.

Technical barriers for RAMICS included targeting through the modulating air/water interface, helicopter-safe standoff and aspect from mine detonation, targeting and ballistic accuracy supporting a 30-40-shot burst kill, wake interference effects of trailing projectiles, low-drag supercavitating dynamics, and mine penetration and destruction for all mine types (including mine detonation/deflagration for destruction confirmation).

In September 2000, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) successfully completed a three-year Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) comprising three demonstrations, each with an exit milestone for the RAMICS ATD. The first demonstration occurred during the fourth quarter FY98, and successfully verified potential technologies, including long-range projectile lethality against key mine types. The second demonstration, conducted in February 2000, validated complete system integration and targeting from a static test platform. The final demonstration, completed in September 2000, validated military effectiveness of the integrated RAMICS system on the AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter by successfully targeting and deflagrating a submerged Mk 6 moored mine at the Aberdeen test facility.

On 23 August 2002, the Program Manager, Mine Warfare (MW) had the RAMICS system development and demonstration contract awarded to Northrop Grumman.

By 12 July 2004, the Program Manager, MW notified the Navy Acquisition Executive of anticipated cost and schedule deviations from the approved acquisition program baseline for RAMICS because of revisions to the availability of the MH-60S helicopter for flight testing along with contractor cost and schedule overruns. This led to the postponement of the planned LRIP decision review from February 2006, which the Navy Acquisition Executive approved on 26 April 2005.

The Program Manager, MW modified the RAMICS system development and demonstration contract with Northrop Grumman on 14 December 2005, to show the impact of Acquisition Program Baseline Change 2 on the program. The system development and demonstration contract, as modified in December 2005, needed to be modified again to include developmental and operational tests not in the contract, which needed to be completed before the LRIP decision review, as discussed in finding A.

The RAMICS EMD program was fully funded in the Navy's FY02 Budget and was scheduled for a Milestone B decision and award of the EMD contract in FY02. On 27 August 2002, Northrop Grumman Corporation was awarded a three-year, $36.9 million contract to develop the RAMICS for the U.S. Navy to protect the fleet from near-surface and floating mines.

As of 2002 RAMICS IOC was scheduled for FY07. As of 2005 procurement of systems was slated to begin in FY09 with first installments in FY10 and RAMICS IOC scheduled for FY10. By 2007, a Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) decision was scheduled for Ausugt 2008.




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