Military Capabilities

South Korea flexes new AW159 helicopter capability in anti-submarine drills

07 February 2017
A Republic of Korea Navy AW159 helicopter, conducting drills with the Incheon-class frigate Gwangju in January 2017. Source: Republic of Korea Navy

In a demonstration of its newly attained submarine prosecution capabilities, the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) has deployed its AW159 helicopters on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) drills for the first time, the service confirmed with Jane's on 7 February.

The exercises, which included the deployment of the helicopter's dipping sonar system, were conducted with a squadron of four airframes near the port of Busan, and tested helicopters' ability to interoperate with its surface ships to jointly prosecute submarines, said the service.

Also participating in the exercises was the service's Incheon (FFX-I)-class guided-missile frigate, RoKS Gwangju (817).

South Korea announced the acquisition of eight AW159 helicopters under the country's Maritime Operational Helicopter programme in 2013. The first batch of four helicopters was delivered in June 2016, while a subsequent batch of four was handed over by Leonardo's Helicopter Division in November the same year.

The platform is equipped with Thales' FLASH Compact Sonics low-frequency active dipping sonar and acoustic processing suite, and the Seaspray 7000E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar supplied by Selex. Weapons that can be deployed from the helicopter include the K745 Cheong Sangeo (Blue Shark) lightweight torpedo, and depth charges.

The AW159 is expected to be fully operational from onboard the Incheon-class frigates in mid-2017.

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