Northrop Grumman Corporation is introducing the MK 39 Mod 4A Ring Laser Ship's Inertial Navigation System, the latest generation of its MK 39 family of navigation systems based on the company's proven ring laser gyro (RLG) technology.
The MK 39 Mod 4A offers several improvements over earlier versions. The new system occupies only half of the deck space and its weight has been cut by 60 percent. Setup and diagnostics are now done via a network-based application instead of a remote control display unit, requiring one less piece of dedicated hardware. Fully configurable serial and Ethernet ports use the NMEA 0183 electrical specification standards and offer high-rate binary messages, satisfying the needs of legacy systems and offering expansion potential for new clients. These ports also use the same inertial measuring unit (IMU), which allows common sparing with earlier models.
"The MK 39 Mod 4A shows Northrop Grumman's commitment to continual improvement of our Inertial Navigation System family," said Bill Hannon, vice president of Northrop Grumman's Maritime Systems business unit. "We believe this smaller, lighter, more economical version of the MK 39 will be a natural and effective upgrade for naval fleets."
A Windows-based control and display application allows the operator to observe the status of the navigator and all reference devices, such as the global positioning system and the speed log, by connecting a computer to any location on the ship's network. The user interface design provides all of the data necessary to make navigation decisions in a single view.
Using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) electronics streamlines supply chain logistics. Flexible Linux-based navigation software enables the use of COTS electronics and reduces the time to bring software and hardware enhancements to market.
Separating the sensor and navigation processing components presents new architectural possibilities. The Mod 4A electronics unit can support a wide variety of IMUs with different accuracy levels and environmental constraints. This enables more commonality and upgrade potential for all ships in a given fleet, even if they have different system requirements.
Further benefits include low acquisition and life-cycle costs; high reliability and low maintenance; hands-off operation that does not require operator intervention; and fewer circuit boards, reducing the need for spares. The MK 39 Mod 4A is not affected by rapid changes in external magnetic fields, assuring high accuracy regardless of location. The RLG sensor offers a proven mean time between failure of more than 200,000 hours.
Northrop Grumman first introduced RLG technology to ships and submarines in 1990, and within a few years the technology became the standard for precision marine navigation applications around the world. The first MK 39 was developed in 1991. The company's MK 39 family currently numbers more than 500 systems in use in more than 40 international navies worldwide.