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Once Troubled Mine Hunter Passes Navy Reliability Tests

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Lockheed Martin's Remote Multi Mission Vehicle in 2010. US Navy Photo

Lockheed Martin’s Remote Multi Mission Vehicle in 2010. US Navy Photo

Naval Sea Systems Command has completed a reliability program on a key component of Littoral Combat Ship mine countermeasure (MCM) package, NAVSEA told USNI News on Thursday.

Lockheed Martin’s Remote Multi Mission Vehicle (RMMV) — the autonomous semi-submersible designed to enter mined waters instead of a ship — is now cleared to continue developmental testing with the LCS MCM package.

“Initial analysis of the data indicates that we have met or exceeded the reliability growth program objectives and are ready to proceed to the developmental test phase, which is scheduled to commence in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2013,” Steve Lose, remote mine hunting system (RMS) program manager said in a Thursday NAVSEA statement.

The RMMV suffered intense reliability problems when it was first introduced for testing with the Navy. Tests in 2008 showed the RMMV could only operate for 7.9 hours before failure, according to report from Jane’s Defence Weekly.

NAVSEA did not reveal new reliability statistics for RMMV but program managers have previously indicated that 75 hours of operation between failures would be a minimum threshold for the vehicle.

“I am extremely pleased with the outcome of this event,” said Rear Adm. James Murdoch, program executive officer for LCS. “It gives us great confidence as we prepare for the next phases of RMS and LCS mine countermeasures mission package testing.”

In May, Lockheed won a $52.9 million contract to integrate the RMMV on both variants of LCS.

“With the completion of the reliability testing, we are a big step closer to addressing the need for a safe, efficient mine warfare capability for the US Navy,” said Steve Froelich, program director at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in a statement provided to USNI News.

The RMMV will be the only vehicle in the MCM package capable of towing the AQS-20A sonar after the Navy determined the MH-60S helicopter did not have the power to tow the sonar.