PANAMA CITY, Florida --- Engineers at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) recently completed a flight test using a device that will prevent Navy personnel from having to enter a minefield during mine hunting and clearing missions.
“The Airborne Surface Quad Thruster Interface Device, or ASQUID, attaches to the side of a MH-60 helicopter. Once the helicopter is in the right location, the ASQUID lowers the MK-18 into the water and they are able to search for mines,” said Tim Currie, NSWC PCD Technical Program Manager for Aviation Systems and Mission Package in service engineering agent. “Once the mine sweep is complete, the helicopter can fly over the area and the ASQUID can retrieve the MK-18.”
The MK-18 is an underwater drone the searches for mines and is currently delivered to mine fields using a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB). The RHIBs are slow, can’t be used in rough waters, and puts Sailors in close proximity to dangerous minefields.
“This new delivery method increases the time and speed that the MK-18s are delivered,” said Currie. “They are able to stay on station longer because they don’t waste their internal batteries getting to the minefield. Sailors are our most valuable asset and this new technology puts them out of harm’s way.”
NSWC PCD engineers partnered with Naval Underwater Warfare Center Keyport engineers to perfect the technology and Air Test and Evaluation (HX) 21, an MH-60 helicopter test squadron, completed the flight test to certify the design.
“We wanted to make the ASQUID easy for any MH-60 crew to operate,” said Currie. “Instead of creating our own controller, we purchased XBOX controllers, something we thought a lot of Sailors would be familiar with operating.”
The ASQUID was a Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE) funded project that was deemed a successful experiment and will be on display at the Department of Defense Lab Day in Washington D.C. April 25.