The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) received its first Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) MCH-101 Airborne Mine Counter Measures helicopter on 10 March 2015.
The chopper is a licence built version of the AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter. Its equipment includes the Northrop Grumman AN/AQS-24A airborne mine hunting system and the Northrop Grumman AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS).
Kawasaki Heavy Industries has led the development of the AMCM variant of the AW101/MCH-101, with AgustaWestland providing technical support. The support includes Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) modified to be able to perform coupled towing patterns with the AN/AQS-24A.
Japan will operate the first MC-101 from Iwakuni Air Base, with the 51st Experimental Squadron before entering operational service in 2016.
The AN/AQS-24A features a high-resolution, side scan sonar for real time, detection, localization and classification of bottom and moored mines at high area coverage rates and a laser line scanner to provide precision optical identification of underwater mines and other objects of interest. Through the ALMDS the data is presented on a mission console in the cabin of the helicopter.
The first MCH-101 is the eight of 13 AW101s that Kawasaki Heavy Industries is building under licence from AgustaWestland for the Japan Maritime Defense Force. Another five MCH-101s are awaiting full configuration, while the JMSDF also received two CH-101s to support Japan’s Antarctic research activities.
Featured image: The KHI / AgustaWestland MCH-101 mine-encounter chopper of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Image © AgustaWestland)