The Japanese government is procuring another Kawasaki MCH-101 airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM)-capable helicopter for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). The publication has listed a projected expenditure of JPY7.3 billion (USD53.4 million) for the procurement. The first AMCM configured is the eighth of 13 AW101s that Kawasaki Heavy Industries is building under licence from AgustaWestland for the Japan Maritime Defense Force. The eight aircraft delivered to date comprise six MCH-101s and two CH-101s. The KHI MCH-101 helicopter is a version of the AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter built under licence by KHI for the JMSDF. The CH-101s are used to support Japan’s Antarctic research activities.
The aircraft is fitted with a Northrop Grumman AN/AQS-24A airborne mine hunting system and a Northrop Grumman AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS). The AN/AQS-24A is a high speed airborne mine hunting system with a high-resolution side-scan sonar for real-time detection, localisation and classification of bottom and moored mines. The AN/AES-1 ALMDS uses pulsed laser light and streak tube receivers to image the near-surface volume that may contain mines. This pod is mounted on the helicopter’s port weapon carrier and data is displayed on the cabin mission console. Together these two systems provide the helicopter with a surface-to-bottom mine detection capability.
AgustaWestland is providing technical support for the KHI MCH-101 programme. KHI is responsible for leading the design and integration of the AN/AQS-24A carriage, deploy, tow and recovery system installed in the cabin. AgustaWestland modified the automatic flight control system of the aircraft to perform towing patterns with the AN/AQS-24A. The MCH-101 will replace the fleet of MH-53E that are in service with the JMSDF. The MCH-101 helicopters are primarily deployed in minesweeping and transport missions. It will also be used to provide transport support for Antarctic exploration. The MCH-101 can be operated from shore as well as from JMSDF ships, such as Hyuga Class helicopter destroyers.
Based on the EH-101, the MCH-101 helicopter was designed to meet the minesweeping requirements of the JMSDF. The modular airframe of the MCH-101 is made of aluminium alloy and composite materials. The length of the MCH-101 is 22.8m, while the rotor diameter and height of the helicopter are 18.6m and 6.6m respectively. The helicopter has the gross weight of 14,800kg. The MCH-101 helicopter is powered by three Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 turboshaft engines. KHI was granted a licence to assemble, test, repair and overhaul RTM322 engines for the MCH-101 fleet of the JMSDF. Each RTM322 engine develops a maximum power of 1,566 kW. The engine’s operation is controlled by a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system. The power plant provides a maximum speed of 280km/h.