|An MH-53E Sea Dragon conducts a mine sweeping exercise. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Martens|
Well, it won't be happening.
As reported by Janes at MH-60S underpowered for MCM towing operations, report finds:
The US Navy's (USN's) future airborne mine countermeasure (AMCM) MH-60S helicopter is unable to tow the minehunting sonar or minesweeping system forming part of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mine countermeasures module (MCM) mission module, the Pentagon's Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT and E) revealed in his annual report, released 15 January.
MH-60S AMCM version (Sikorsky photo)
"The navy determined the MH-60S helicopter cannot safely tow the AN/AQS-20A Sonar Mine Detecting Set (AQS-20A) or the Organic Airborne Sweep and Influence System (OASIS) because the helicopter is underpowered for these operations," read the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Fiscal Year 2012 report from DOT and E, Dr J Michael Gilmore.
"The MH-60S helicopter will no longer be assigned these missions operating from any ship, including LCS," it added.
|One form of LCS|
The actual money quote from the 2012 DOT and E report (pdf, numbered page 177):
The MH-60S helicopter and AQS-20A sonar are not operationally effective or suitable because the helicopter is underpowered and cannot safely tow the sonar under the variety of conditions necessary. The Chief of Naval Operations recently concluded that the MH-60S helicopter is significantly underpowered for the safe performance of the AMCM tow mission and provides limited tactical utility relative to the risk to aircrew, and cancelled that MH-60S mission. The decision to cancel the AMCM tow mission affects employment of both the AQS-20A sonar and Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep.Plan B seems to involve surface robots.
• As observed during the OA and developmental testing, the AQS-20A does not meet all Navy requirements in all operating modes. Contact depth (vertical localization) errors exceeded Navy limits in all AQS-20A operating modes. FCD also exceeded Navy limits in two of three search modes.
• The analysis of test data collected during Phase A of the OA of the MH-60S and ALMDS is still in progress. Preliminary evaluation of data collected during the OA suggests that the ALMDS does not meet Navy requirements for FCD or reliability. DOT and E expects to issue a formal test report in 2QFY13. Phase B testing was originally intended to provide early operational testing insight into the operational effectiveness and suitability of AMCM systems when operating from an LCS, and to identify risk to the successful completion of IOT and E. However, the Navy’s cancellation of Phase B testing will eliminate these intended benefits.
If you are going to run robots around, here's a lower cost alternative to the LCS for MIW ops: