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Autonomous Mobile Periscope System (AMPS)

The autonomous mobile periscope system, or AMPS, is an unmanned underwater vehicle developed by Carderock Division engineers. The vehicle is 26.5 feet long and 2 feet in diameter and weighs 3,600 pounds. This platform was upgraded to expand the vehicle capability to include a visual and radar target, as well as an underwater acoustic target. AMPS provides anti-submarine warfare (ASW) units with a live target they can track, avoiding the expense of fielding a real submarine for ASW training exercises.

The improvements to the vehicle included several electronics upgrades and the addition of a target acoustic system, which enabled AMPS to broadcast sounds associated with an operating submarine, improving the realism of the training target presented to ASW units. The acoustic target was requested because the ASW crews used sonobuoys to locate and track a submarine's position. By installing these upgrades, they would have not only have the training using visual detection and surface radars, but also using the sonobuoys and other acoustic systems. So the AMPS could present a more realistic target by raising its periscope close to the surface for a few minutes, giving the ASW crew the opportunity to look for the vehicle with radar, and then submerging, giving them the acoustic perspective. Several iterations of that sort of exercise could be accomplished, simulating submarine activity in a littoral area.

By November 2001, acceptance testing had been accomplished, and the vehicle was received by the PMRF. Division personnel then trained members of ITT, a contractor company used by the facility, who subsequently operated and maintained AMPS. After the acceptance, PMRF asked to have the upgrade work done on the vehicle. The first thing PMRF did was to improve the design of the electronics by streamlining the wiring and the placement of equipment. This was done to improve the serviceability, making maintenance of the unit much easier. The maintenance technicians could more easily find troubleshooting checkpoints, trace wiring, and replace defective components and sensors. Components also were rearranged and shielded to minimize any electromagnetic interference. PMRF also built an additional set of electronics, so in the event of a problem onboard, the entire electronics set can be replaced with the spare set, minimizing AMPS downtime. While AMPS was still online, the technicians could repair the electronic problem offline. The new electronics were constructed under a contract with EG&G and tested for operational compliance at West Bethesda in Code 5300's electronics lab space.

The second upgrade to the vehicle incorporated a target acoustic subsystem from the expendable mobile acoustic training target (EMATT Mk 39 Mod 0), which generated tonals, echo repeat signals received from active sonar generation, and served as a transponder for signals received. EMATT was developed by Sippican for NUWC, and the Mod 0 assembly on AMPS was to be replaced with Mod 2 in the 3rd quarter of FY04. The Mod 2 unit would provide more programmable acoustic signal generation capabilities, including broadband and transient signals.

More upgrades for AMPS were likely forthcoming, such as increasing its speed and the depth to which it could dive. Also, an underwater command and control circuit was planned.




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