US Navy deploys mine countermeasure UUV from helicopter

The U.S. Navy recently demonstrated a new mine sweeping technique during a test in which a MH-60S helicopter deployed a MK-18 Mod 2 unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV).

This demonstration proved a possible lighter, less time intensive way to sweep for mines in theatre, compared to a MH-53E helicopter towing a Mk-107 sled.

According to NSWC PCD MH-60S integration lead Tim Currie, Naval Air Systems Command HX-21 test pilots used a NSWC PCD “Dragon Master” MH-60S helicopter with the MK18 MOD2 mass model to transit a short distance to the operational area near the NSWC PCD sea wall.

“Once in a hover, the crewman streamed the mass model and adapter into the water and initiated release of the MK18 MOD2 mass model. Once the MK18 MOD2 mass model was released from the UUV adapter the crewman retrieved the adapter back to storage position on the side of the aircraft,” said Currie. “The total operation, from liftoff to touchdown, took 18 minutes. The release of the mass model and recovery of the UUV adapter took approximately three minutes.”

Currie said no anomalies or equipment issues occurred during any phase of the flight. The aircrew, aircraft, and UUV adapter returned to base safely. The mass model was retrieved from the bay and returned to the hangar shortly after liftoff.

“This program has been funded by the NISE program with the goal of providing internal warfare funds to incubate promising new technologies that will improve the capabilities of the Navy,” said Currie. “The fleet demand for the capabilities that the MK18 MOD2 brings to the Navy grows every day. We hope that this work furthers that goal.”

The demonstration was Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE) funded by Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division. Test scientists, engineers and military pilots from NSWC PCD, Naval Air Systems Command HX-21 Squadron and PMA-299, NAVSEA PMS 408, and Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport collaborated on the event.