Tuesday, January 22, 2013

One more hit for the Littoral Combat Ship - Assigned helicopters can't tow the minesweeping gear for LCS MIW ops

Mine sweeping helicopters used by the U.S. Navy have been big honking MH-53E's with three engines and huge rotors.

                               An MH-53E Sea Dragon conducts a mine sweeping exercise.                                                                      U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Martens
The plan was to replace them with a "kit" for the small MH-60S birds, which could then be flown off the Littoral Combat Ships as part of the "mine warfare package."

Well, it won't be happening.

As reported by Janes at MH-60S underpowered for MCM towing operations, report finds:
MH-60S AMCM version (Sikorsky photo)
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.

"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
Among other things, there are many MH-60 pilots breathing a sign of relief that this mission may pass them by.

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.
• 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.
Plan B seems to involve surface robots.


If you are going to run robots around, here's a lower cost alternative to the LCS for MIW ops:
Long linger time with nice deck chairs.

Just saying.


  1. Anonymous5:28 PM

    Cdr. Salamander, call your office.

  2. So what we have is a LCS ship that can't even do a basic Corvette mission. I think it's time to scrap the whole LCS crap and go with a multi role frigate

  3. Anonymous11:42 AM

    Looks like you need to trim down by the bow a bit.
    The MH60 problem doesn't surprise me much, the H53s have to work pretty hard with the mechanical sweeps. The tensiometers on the old Active class MSOs used to really spike up when they cut the cables on moored mines, I just couldn't see a relatively small helicopter being able to handle that kind of load when this was first proposed.

    Good to see ever6yone survived the Mayan Apocalypse.


    1. A few cases of beer, some ice chests and some jetskis on the "front porch" will assist with the trim issue on the "MIWvan"©

  4. Anonymous1:24 PM

    Exactly, if one and I'm sure that they already are, looks at it really closely there are probably few future missions that cannot be conducted in whole or in part by unmanned/remotely operated/fully autonomous vehicles of various description. Whole "ships" and subs may, perhaps or should be come robotic with robotic aircraft helos and weapons. Imagine the cost savings of taking human ‘crews’ out of the picture as far as is absolutely practicable; the cool techno-factor would be off the charts!

  5. Anonymous8:31 PM

    LCS delende est.

  6. The LCS-2 class flight deck while big enough to handle an H-53 was NOT certified for them. WTF?
    I fully expect the LCS-2 to be THE MIW platform because of its capacity which is too bad because I believe the Austal hullform will perform much better out in the big blue.

    LCS-1 forget them!

    1. leesea, the flight deck can't support the weight of the -53's. It's a structural issue.