TOKYO, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Japan's maritime military has awarded Science Applications International Corp. a contract to provide software and ancillaries for its MCH-101 helicopter Airborne Mine Countermeasures project.
The work is specifically for the Mine Warfare and Environmental Decision Aids Library, a system for coordinating mine countermeasure operations.
SAIC also will provide engineering and training services to help integrate MEDAL within the broader MCH-101 ground support system that is under development by NEC Corp., the prime contractor in Japan.
Japan's maritime force is expanding the capabilities of its MCH-101 aircraft to include airborne mine countermeasures, a statement from SAIC said.
MEDAL will be used in the planning, evaluation, command and control of countermeasure missions.
The MCH-101 AMCM helicopter will replace Japan's Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon mine sweeping helicopters, which entered service in the United States in the 1980s.
The fleet of 11 MCH-101 helicopters is derived from AgustaWestland's AW101, a three-engine heavy maritime helicopter being built in Japan under license by Kawasaki.
The aircraft will be operated aboard Japan's Hyuga class helicopter-capable destroyers, a report by Defense Industry Daily said.
The MCH-101 helicopter AMCM systems will include Northrop Grumman's AN/AQS-24A mine hunting side scan sonar, its AN/AES-1 airborne laser mine detection system and the MK-104 acoustic mine sweeping system.
Thomas Watson, SAIC senior vice president and business unit general manager, said the MEDAL system for Japan will allow increased interoperability with the U.S. Navy's MEDAL system, which has been in operation since the mid 1990s.
"Japan is a crucial ally and its mine warfare forces are known and respected for their capabilities worldwide," Watson said.
"We look forward to a long relationship with the JMSDF and also to exploring the potential to further enhance interoperability and provide solutions to the JMSDF and other allied nations."
Japan has two Hyuga class 65-foot vessels, built by IHI Marine United -- the Hyuga, commissioned in March 2009, and the Ise, commissioned in March last year.
The destroyers displace around 19,000 tons and have flight decks and an enclosed hangar.
Japan is believed to be considering a third similar by much larger Hyuga class vessel, a report by Defense Talk news website said in 2010.
The new ship would be nearly 820 feet long and displace more than 24,000 tons, making it almost 50 percent larger than the two Hyuga class vessels in operation.
The size would place "unbearable semantic strain on the use of the term destroyer to describe these ships," Defense Talk reported.
SAIC, which has headquarters in McLean, Va., had annual revenues of about $10.6 billion for its fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2012.
Its main customers are in the U.S. Department of Defense, the intelligence community, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, other U.S. government civil agencies and selected commercial markets.