inertial sensor

Powerful New Inertial Sensor to Equip the U.S. Navy for Navigation Without Relying on GPS

A formidable next-generation inertial sensor will soon be deployed by the United States Navy, which it says will offer vast improvements to its present maritime navigational capabilities.

The AN/WSN-12 Inertial Sensor Module (ISM) is a next-generation sensor that is designed to relay positioning data accurately for combatant vessels with or without GPS and will soon be deployed on the U.S. Navy’s DDG, CG, CVN, and SSN class vessels.

This week, it was reported that the contract for its production was awarded to the aerospace and defense technology company Northrup Grumman Corporation, according to a press release.

Production of the AN/WSN-12 represents a milestone toward the achievement of Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) maritime solutions, which aim to use inertial devices combined with other alternative navigational methods as opposed to relying primarily on GPS.

The system’s primary component, the Inertial Sensor Module, combines state-of-the-art inertial navigational capabilities with electromechanical equipment and software capable of providing accurate positioning information that includes attitude, velocity, and position information.

The production of the first ten pre-production AN/WSN-12 units was initially announced in 2018, following the completion of its developmental Critical Design Review (CDR) phase. A key advantage of the AN/WSN-12 is that its design allows it to be implemented on existing systems, “where space is at a premium,” said Todd Leavitt, Northrop Grumman vice president of naval and oceanic systems, in a statement.

The AN/WSN-12 will upgrade the existing AN/WSN-7 INS navigational systems that have remained in use on board most U.S. Navy vessels for the last two decades.

The company says the first Inertial Sensor Module will see initial fielding later in 2023.

Micah Hanks is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of The Debrief. He can be reached by email at Follow his work at and on Twitter: @MicahHanks