Congratulations to the U.S.Navy!

It's spending taxpayer money on developing an Unmanned Influence Sweep System - a boat drone which is supposed to fool some kinds of naval mines into detonating.* A prototype is supposed to be ready by 2016. This sounds as if the operational capability is hoped for for the 2020-2025 time frame.


The German navy has had this kind of vehicles in service since 1981.

German "Seehund" (seal) remotely operated vehicles

In fact, this kind of vehicle may be obsolete and ineffective already due to the 1980's development of digital signal analysis of acoustic mine fuzes based on sound libraries. And naval offshore minesweeping and minebreaking* has become unreliable in general because of 'smart' mobile mines which would allow a naval minefield to rearrange and thus replace spent mines.
Ships could follow a "cleared" lane with GPS accuracy and could still encounter a naval mine which had still been somewhere else while a mineweeper swept the lane the last time.


*: It's common to apply the terms "minenräumen" / "minesweeping" to this, but it would be more accurate to call it "minebreaking" from the perspective of the drone. "minebreaking" was an uneconomical method of dealing with mines, used only by desperate commanders. The Japanese did it in 1945 (least valuable ships leading the convoy column and thus clearing the path for the others). They had no effective minesweeping technology against magneto-acoustic mines, lagging behind European theatre of war technology. The very rare employment of the minebreaking procedure ensured that the term would largely stay obscure and unknown.

Further official (German) links:  link 1 and link 2



  1. And the U.S. Navy had mine sweeping Helicopters in 1971...

    Besides, NATO is supposed to be the major force provide for expeditionary mine sweeping.

    As far as I can tell, no navy has a fast and effective way of breaching a mine field composed of bottom mines. Mine hunting using ROVs, mammals and other means are too slow.

    A determined enemy with just average resources could cause major problems for every Navy. The Filipinos, Japanese, and Vietnamese could make China howl by deploying mines in contested waters.

    The reality is that the most likely mine warfare scenario is the PG, and the most probable mine threat are contact mines which are susceptible to to mechanical sweeps.


    1. Helicopters - particularly heavy ones such as CH-53 - are very expensive and can be in action only a few hours per day. Their helicopter sweeps appear to be practical only for canal and river sweeps, or for very small lanes in front of harbours.
      The German drone boats have heavy copper coils (10 km wire); much more mass and thus much more power than possible with a small helo sled.