A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber conducted an operational demonstration of the Quickstrike-ER (QS-ER) Naval mine project in the Pacific Ocean on May 30.
The B-52 bomber took off from the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii and released four inert QS64-ER 2000lb mine shapes on a remote shallow water location of the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF). PMRF is the world’s largest instrumented, multi-dimensional testing and training missile range.
The bomber used for the demonstration was assigned to the USAF’s 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron based at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.
“The B-52 is an ideal airframe for testing the QS64-ER, as it has the ability to carry multiple mentions, as well as the speed and range needed to support this joint project,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Little, 49th TES commander.
Quickstrike 64-ER is an air-laid mine equipped with a 2000 lb MK64 Quickstrike naval mine. The Quickstrike is a Mark 80-series general purpose bomb with the fuze replaced with a target detection device (TDD) to detonate it when a ship passes within lethal range, a safe/arm device in the nose, and a parachute-retarder tailkit in the back.
“The effort of the Naval mine project was spearheaded by USINDOPACOM to meet the requirements of the region,” said Little.
“Current mine technology, while effective, has been largely unchanged since World War II,” said Dr. George Ka‘iliwai III, USINDOPACOM Director of Requirements and Resources. “These innovations and capabilities in the QS-ER project will allow our forces to generate more effective minefields from longer ranges and more rapidly than ever before.”
The Naval mine project is part of a two-year joint effort to develop, test and operationally demonstrate the capabilities of the QS64-ER that combines Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) technology and an additional wing kit and battery section with existing mine components. This allows it to be delivered long range and high altitude, which significantly reduces risk to the aircraft.
“This aerial maritime mine is compatible, interoperable, and can be employed by virtually any JDAM enabled aircraft, including foreign partners,” said Ka‘iliwai. “These capabilities will serve as a significant deterrent in peacetime and an effective operational and strategic tool in wartime.”
This is the final and largest demonstration of the Quickstrike 64-ER Naval mine project, which was “initiated by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) as part of ongoing efforts to modernize and enhance military readiness throughout the joint forces in the Indo-Pacific region”.
Ouickstrike air-laid mines:
The U.S. Air Force performed the first-ever drop of a precision guided aerial mine, consisting of a Quickstrike mine equipped with a JDAM kit on 23 September 2014.
The Quickstrike-J precision maritime mine is a JDAM-equipped 1,000 lb or 2,000 lb version, while the GBU-62B(V-1)/B Quickstrike-ER standoff, precision maritime mine is a 500 lb or 2,000 lb gliding version based on the JDAM-ER, which has a range of 40 nmi (46 mi; 74 km) when launched from 35,000 ft (11,000 m).