During Baltops exercise, U.S. Air Force B-52s have also conducted mine-laying mission off the coasts of Sweden, simulating a counter-marine invasion mission.
U.S. Air Force B-52H strategic bombers deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, used inert MK-62 Quick Strike Mines with MK-15 tail fins to train and test the aircrew’s ability to precisely drop munitions into a target zone during Baltops exercise.
The two Stratofortresses were each loaded with 9 inert mines built by minemen from the Navy Munitions Command Unit Charleston and Airmen from the 5th Munitions Squadron out of Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.
The B-52 used the bombs to simulate a mission against ships supporting a naval invasion near Ravlunda, Sweden, on the Baltic Sea.
The Mk-62 mines is a Mk-82 500-lb general purpose bomb fitted with a Fin Mk 15, Fin BSU-86/B, or Tail Section Mk 16 and dropped by either a B-52H (or a B-1B – that is also capable to drop JDAMs on naval targets) at high-speed and low altitude (around 1,000 feet). Once in the water, the mine uses an MK57 Target Detection Device (TDD) to detect a ship passing above: basically, it can detect the vessel by pressure of the ship on the water, by magnetism of the ship’s metal or vibration caused by the ship.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
Some distant photos of the B-52s escorted by Swedish Gripens – http://www.afgsc.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/2015/06/150612-N-ZZ999-005.jpg
Great picture. :)
18 mines is a “massive” naval mine drop? Really? Could this site please, PLEASE not become another Foxtrotalpha?
OK…Multiple by x # of B-52.
Let’s just say 8 B-52’s x 18 mines each = 144 mines.
Clearing 144 mines from a SLOC or large body of water would be challenging!
The point of the exercise was to demonstrate a capability.
I would say the point is made!
Better question you might ask: What are Russian Navy mine clearing capabilities today? How long would it take them to ‘clear’ 144 mines – if they actually knew the total #?
Also, the use of mines would enable effective use of other capabilities including: SSKs, FACMs and land-based ASMs.
That is the point of the exercise. NATO and Sweden have capabilities and options!
Simulated massive drop, in a war scenario each B-52 would be carrying 51 mines (27 internally + 24 externally) and dropping them. The Mark 62 is just a Mark 82 converted into a naval mine so the carriage is the same.
I’m more surprised to see the mines using the old Snakeye fins, I thought they were gone completely from the inventory but I gather with dropping naval mines, the issues of the Snakeye fins are moot given you’re hitting an area target versus a point target.