PANAMA CITY, Florida --- For years, the U.S. Navy has swept the water columns in various ways for mines, to include using a Mk-107 sled towed by a MH-53E helicopter. This demonstration proved a possible lighter, less time intensive way to sweep for mines in theatre and deployed a MK-18 Mod 2 unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) from a MH-60S aircraft.
According to NSWC PCD MH-60S Integration Lead Tim Currie, Naval Air Systems Command HX-21 test pilots used a NSWC PCD "Dragon Master" MH-60S helicopter with the MK18 MOD2 mass model to transit a short distance to the operational area near the NSWC PCD sea wall.
"Once in a hover, the crewman streamed the mass model and adapter into the water and initiated release of the MK18 MOD2 mass model. Once the MK18 MOD2 mass model was released from the UUV adapter the crewman retrieved the adapter back to storage position on the side of the aircraft," said Currie. "The total operation, from liftoff to touchdown, took 18 minutes. The release of the mass model and recovery of the UUV adapter took approximately three minutes."
Currie said no anomalies or equipment issues occurred during any phase of the flight. The aircrew, aircraft, and UUV adapter returned to base safely. The mass model was retrieved from the bay and returned to the hangar shortly after liftoff.
"This program has been funded by the NISE program with the goal of providing internal warfare funds to incubate promising new technologies that will improve the capabilities of the Navy," said Currie. "The Fleet demand for the capabilities that the MK18 MOD2 brings to the Navy grows every day. We hope that this work furthers that goal."
The demonstration was Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE) funded by Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division. Test scientists, engineers and military pilots from NSWC PCD, Naval Air Systems Command HX-21 Squadron and PMA-299, NAVSEA PMS 408, and Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport collaborated on the event.
"This was a perfect collaboration between government and industry," said Currie. "Our industry partners and Concurrent Technologies/EVC had the vision to design the UUV adapter device on internal funding, knowing that this was a needed capability for the U.S. Navy."
Currie said the next challenge is Phase 2: Recovery of MK18 Mod 2 from the aircraft.
"We are working with NUWC Keyport on the recovery device and two Keyport engineers were onsite for Phase 1 of the test. We wanted them to see a flight first hand to aid in their design for the recovery device," said Currie. "Lessons learned from the initial in water testing have been included in the second prototype design and we expect to have a functional prototype by April of this year. In April, we will be back pier side conducting in water testing of the recovery device and I will provide periodic updates to that progress. Phase 2 flight testing is scheduled for the first quarter of FY18."
NAVSEA Warfare Center Executive Director Don McCormack congratulated the MH-60S, MK-18 deployment team via email Feb. 2, 2017.
"Congratulations on yesterday's successful demonstration. This is a great good news story for the Warfare Centers, our industry partners and the Expeditionary MCM Warrior. I look forward to the same success with the retrieval aspect," he wrote. "The real winner will be when this capability is operationalized for the warfighter."