Japan Maritime Force MCH-101 helicopter

The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) has awarded a contract to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to provide the mine warfare and environmental decision aids library (MEDAL) software system.

Under the contract, SAIC will provide the system in support of the JMSDF’s AgustaWestland MCH-101 helicopter airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) programme.

SAIC senior vice president and business unit general manager Thomas Watson said : "This sale of MEDAL helps make the JMSDF and the US Navy more interoperable."

The company will also provide assistance, as well as engineering and training services to integrate the software system within the broader MCH-101 ground support system.

Developed by NEC Corporation, the MCH-101 AMCM helicopter will replace the Sikorsky MH-53E (S-80-M-1) Sea Dragon minesweeping helicopter in the AMCM role for Japan.

"This sale of MEDAL helps make the JMSDF and the US Navy more interoperable."

MEDAL has been designed to provide mission planning, evaluation, and command and control of AMCM missions.

In addition to AMCM systems, the MCH-101 helicopter will feature Northrop Grumman‘s AN/AQS-24A mine hunting side scan sonar, AN/AES-1 airborne laser mine detection system (ALMDS), and the MK-104 acoustic minesweeping system.

Northrop has delivered four ALMDS for use on JMSDF’s AgustaWestland MCH-101 helicopters to boost coastline protection and daily maritime traffic.

The JMSDF MEDAL system will also support planning and evaluation of the MCH-101 AMCM systems, as well as provide increased levels of interoperability with the US Navy.

In 2003, the JMSDF ordered 14 aircraft to support both AMCM and transport missions, while the Japan Defence Agency designated the modified version of the AW101 as MCH-101.

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