Airborne Mine Countermeasures Add Speed, Range of Operations

Representatives from 41 nations have gathered in the Arabian Gulf for International Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2013, a training exercise on how to keep the seas free of mines.

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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Bryan Blair
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

Although the majority of mine countermeasures missions are accomplished at sea, the “Blackhawks” of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15 and their MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters are paramount to the success of these missions.

The MH-53E, which is the largest helicopter in the U.S. inventory,  is the only U.S. Navy aircraft that can conduct mine countermeasures missions operations, using various towed devices including mine hunting sonar and mechanical minesweeping gear.

An MH-53E Sea Dragon assigned to Helicopter Mine Counter Measure Squadron 15 conducts a mine sweeping exercise in the Arabian Gulf, April 16, 2007 (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Edward G. Martens/Released)

An MH-53E Sea Dragon assigned to Helicopter Mine Counter Measure Squadron 15 conducts a mine sweeping exercise in the Arabian Gulf, April 16, 2007 (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Edward G. Martens/Released)

 

Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15’s command mission is:

“To maintain a worldwide 72-hour airborne mine countermeasures rapid deployment posture and a four aircraft forward-deployed airborne mine countermeasures and vertical onboard delivery capability in the Arabian Gulf.”

The squadron’s primary mission is airborne mine countermeasures, which is the squadron’s focus during International Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2013. The squadron is also conducting logistics/vertical onboard delivery support such as personnel and material transfers.

Airborne mine countermeasures operate in tandem with surface and underwater mine countermeasures to provide a complete mine countermeasure effect. Each platform has its advantages.

Airborne mine countermeasures add speed and range of operations. The MH-53E is capable of flying over the horizon at 150 knots, providing mine countermeasure support sooner than any other platform. Once on station, aircraft tow devices at speeds up to 10 times faster than surface ships, providing a rapid, effective response to any threat around the world.

Why do you think airborne mine countermeasures are important?