Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force MCH-101 helicopter

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems has awarded a contract to CPI Aerostructures (CPI Aero) to supply pod structural housings for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) airborne laser mine detection system (ALMDS).

Under the contract, CPI Aero will deliver pod structures to support Northrop’s first direct commercial sale of four ALMDS to JMSDF, made in February 2012.

The JMSDF has purchased four ALMDS for use on its AgustaWestland MCH-101 helicopters to better protect its coastline and daily maritime traffic.

Ten pod structural assemblies have been produced by CPI Aero to support low-rate initial production (LRIP) for Northrop ALMDS.

The pressurised and thermally conditioned structural assemblies will comprise the ALMDS laser and electronics.

The 9ft-long ALMDS is an airborne mine countermeasures system that will serve as a key component for the littoral combat ship mine countermeasures mission package.

The helicopter-mounted system can quickly locate surface and near-surface moored mines and neutralise them using streak tube imaging light detection and ranging (LIDAR) before they cause damage to military or commercial ships.

The high-area coverage rate capability system uses a pulsed laser light and streak tube receivers, housed in an external equipment pod on the MH-60 helicopter, to produce 3D images of the entire near-surface volume area of the sea.

An automatic target recognition algorithm is used to sort the images received by the system for potential mine-like objects and stored for classification by shipboard fleet operators.

Work under the contract is scheduled to commence immediately and deliveries to Northrop are expected to take place from mid-2013 and run through early 2014.

The ALMDS has also been chosen by the US Navy as part of the mine countermeasure (MCM) mission package on its new littoral combat ship.

Image: A Japan Maritime Force MCH-101 helicopter installed with airborne laser mine detection system. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman.