The U.S. Navy has forward deployed the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
ALMDS is a sensor system designed to detect, classify and localize floating and near-surface moored mines. Operated from the MH-60S helicopter, ALMDS provides rapid wide-area reconnaissance and assessment of mine threats in littoral zones, confined straits, and choke points.
Sailors from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26, Detachment 2, Laser Hawks, began the operational testing and demonstration of ALMDS in 5th Fleet on the system’s maiden deployment August 4.
“The U.S. Fifth Fleet is focused on reducing the threat posed by sea-based mines in the region should that be necessary and the presence of ALMDS here in the theater adds to our capacity to do just that,” said Vice Adm. John W. Miller, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces.
“It’s a laser-driven system that works like radar,” said Lt. Cmdr. Theodore Lemerande, officer in charge of Laser Hawks. “It beams a laser down into the water and picks up reflections from anything it bounces off of. The system then registers the returned information and uses that data to produce a video image in order for technicians on the ground to determine what the object is.”
The Navy’s largest helicopter, the MH-53E Sea Dragon, has been a critical component of the Navy’s ability to perform the airborne countermine mission in the Fifth Fleet and elsewhere for many years. ALMDS expands the countermine mission to smaller MH-60S helicopters.
Lemerande said: “ALMDS allows us to take airborne mine countermeasures technology to these smaller helicopters that can fly from smaller ships allowing us to take mine countermeasures into places that may not have been accessible before.”