2008: This month, several U.S. B-52
bombers practiced dropping naval mines off the coast of Guam, in the central
Pacific. The bombers dropped 162 inert mines. The Mk-62 is a U.S. Navy weapon,
and is basically a 500 pound bomb with a 70 pound electronics and sensor
package screwed on.
Mk-62 hits the water (slowed down by a parachute), it sinks to the bottom (the
mines are dropped in shallow coastal waters, harbors or rivers) and its sensor
package turns on. The Mk-62 is programmed beforehand to go after certain types
of targets. Magnetic, pressure and sound sensors can identify a wide variety of
ships, and only certain types are attacked. The battery on the Mk-62 powers the
electronics package for a long time (the exact duration is, obviously, secret) but
is reported to be at least weeks. If you drop several Mk-62s in an area, some
can shut down until others run down their batteries. The software in the Mk-62
is extremely flexible and capable, and the sensors are all passive (they do not
emit) making the mines hard to detect and clear.
warplanes regularly train dropping Mk-62s. Similar mines can also be delivered
by submarines. These mines can be decisive weapons, if used by a power that can
deliver them quickly by air. For that reason, air force aircraft are equipped
to carry the Mk-62s, and train dropping them.