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Northrop Grumman Corporation announced on 16 October 2023 that it has been awarded a contract by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to provide Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) solutions and technical support for the engineering, manufacturing and design (EMD) phase of the Korean Mine Countermeasures Helicopter (KMCH) programme. The EMD phase is expected to be completed in 2027.

ALMDS is capable of operating by day or night, which allows it to attain high area search rates. The system also provides accurate target geo-location to support follow-on neutralisation of the detected mines.

“The mission of ALMDS is to detect, classify and localise floating and near-surface moored mines rapidly,” Chang-heon Han, executive vice president of KAI’s rotary-wing division, was quoted as saying by Northrop Grumman. “KAI is convinced that the ALMDS integration will make a significant improvement to the Republic of Korea Navy’s mine detection capabilities. The programme will also enhance our strategic partnership with Northrop Grumman in the defence domain.”

An ALMDS system installed on a US Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter. Northrop Grumman is to provide the system for South Korea’s KMCH programme. (Photo: US Navy)

The KMCH is a medium-class helicopter derived from KAI’s Marine Utility Helicopter (MUH-1, or Marineon). In June 2023 BAE Systems won a GBP 7.4 M (EUR M) contract to provide a mine disposal system for the KMCH based on its Archerfish remote-controlled underwater mine neutraliser.