AgustaWestland’s EH101 medium-lift submarine hunter is already in service with the British Royal Navy and the Italian navy and will soon enter service with the Japanese maritime self defense force, which plans to configure the helicopter for an airborne mine countermeasures platform.
It is a relatively new role for the big three-engine helicopter, which has already seen service in antisubmarine warfare training, antisurface warfare and maritime patrol.
At Heli-Expo’06, AgustaWestland (Booth No. 1141) is promoting its versatile bird as “the most capable helicopter in its class and the only helicopter that can perform the airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) role, even with the loss of one of its three engines.”
Pointing to a worldwide collection of more than 300 mine types that can be a potent threat to military and civilian shipping, AgustaWestland believes the EH101 is the answer. A palletized AMCM countermeasures system made up of an operator console, winch assembly, carriage, deployment system and submersible unit all fit into the relatively roomy EH101 cabin (21 feet long by 8.17 feet wide by 6 feet high) with space remaining for seats or other equipment.
Exterior modifications required for the mine countermeasures role include a rear-view television camera and monitor or mirrors for the pilot and rear fuselage tow-cable guide bars. The system is deployed via the rear ramp.
Carrying the AMCM package within the helicopter cabin allows for a max cruise speed of 150 knots. It also permits a rapid change-out for other maritime roles. Assuming a radius of action of 50 nm, Agusta- Westland estimates the helicopter with the AMCM package can perform 2.5 hours of towing time on station.
The EH101 was developed as a naval helicopter and is suited for ship or shore-based operations. The main rotor and tail-fold systems are electrically operated.