The US Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two Eight (HSC 28) has used the latest airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) systems in the BALTOPS exercise in the Baltic Sea.

HSC 28 performed AMCM operations as part of the BALTOPS 2019 Mine Warfare Task Group.

The Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) and Airborne Mine Neutralization System-Archerfish (AMNS-AF) were used in the Baltic Sea and the Naval Forces Europe area of operations for the first time.

Aircrew operated the ALMDS and AMNS-AF systems from the MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter.

US Second Fleet commander vice-admiral Andrew Lewis said: “You should not underestimate the significance of this deployment for this squadron or naval aviation or the littoral combat ship platform.

“In concert with our partners and allies, this is a real opportunity to up the game from an airborne mine countermeasures perspective.

“We have not done this kind of thing in a long time. There is a lot that we can learn in the theatre on both the capability side and on the exercise side. But it starts by being in the region, you have to do it here.”

ALMDS is a laser-based, high-area-coverage system designed to provide a wide-area reconnaissance and assessment of mine threats for Carrier and Expeditionary Strike Groups (CSG/ESG).

It uses pulsed laser light and streak tube receivers to image the entire near-surface volume to detect, classify and localise near-surface, moored mines.

AMNS-AF is designed to tackle the threat of modern mines. It has the ability to provide reacquisition, identification and neutralisation capability against bottom and moored sea mines.

After identifying the threats during mine-hunting operations, AMNS-AF emits a warhead to explosively neutralise the target.

“We have not done this kind of thing in a long time.”

ALMDS and AMNS-AF are part of the MCM Mission Package certified to be integrated on the Independence-variant littoral combat ships (LCSs).

Assets that were part of BALTOPS 2019 Mine Warfare Task Group included more than 15 MCM ships, 15 unmanned undersea vehicles, five drone ships, and AMCM.